Tyron Woodley has made an outstanding career for himself. He will be the first to tell you how many legends and elite-level fighters he has shared the Octagon with in his 12 years in this sport. In 2016, Woodley won the welterweight championship with a first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler and then went on to defend the title four consecutive times. In his final successful defense, a case can be made that Woodley put on the performance of his career against Darren Till at UFC 228, completely dominating the huge prospect before earning his first submission victory in the UFC. He was then spontaneously awarded a black belt by Coach Din Thomas, and all was rosy in Woodley-ville.
Beginning with UFC 235, Woodley’s luck took a sharp turn for the worse. He lost the title in a one-sided domination at the hands of current champion Kamaru Usman and would then proceed to get dominated just as badly if not worse by his next opponents, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington. In the Covington fight, Woodley suffered a rib injury that called the stop to what was a third consecutive lopsided defeat for Woodley.
Tyron Woodley believes that all three of these fights have a common denominator: he didn’t show up. Sure, he was there inside the cage physically, but Woodley feels that he was not truly present and did not perform anywhere near the level he is capable of. If he did, the former champion believes that all three of his most recent opponents as well as any and every future opponent would be in for a bad night.
“I have a hard time believing that if I go out there and I perform to the level that I’m capable that anybody’s gonna beat me in the welterweight division,” Woodley told ESPN in an interview released Wednesday. “I just don’t believe that. So I think it’s do or die for myself. I’m tired of going out there and watching myself allow people that, in my opinion, didn’t belong in the cage with me being able to defeat me, win, and have a victory, and have my name on their résumé.
“Look at Gilbert, Colby, Usman, I’m the strongest one on their record. I’m the most solidified victory on their record. They can say whatever they want, but when you look at them, without me on their record, they’re not up for title shots. They don’t have a belt around their waist (let alone) fighting for one.”
Tyron Woodley also cited injuries for part of the reason he was unable to adequately prepare and perform at a peak level for all three of the aforementioned fights. All things considered, between the injuries and the psychological obstacles, Woodley believes that neither Usman, Covington, nor Burns knows what it’s like to face, let alone defeat the real Tyron Woodley.
“At the end of the day, I had to go back: What stopped me? They didn’t stop me,” Woodley said of his most recent opponents. “They really didn’t even beat me. I beat myself. Because I didn’t show up. I didn’t perform. I didn’t execute. And it was me vs. me the whole time, and it took me three lessons to really recognize that.”
Do you think it will be “Woodley vs. Woodley” again at UFC 260 when he steps into the cage to face Vicente Luque? If so, which Woodley do you expect to see emerge?