Tyron Woodley will face Robbie Lawler for the welterweight championship at UFC 201 on July 30 in Atlanta. You might think that Woodley – and a lot of fighters – have hatred or dislike for their opponents, even if it’s manufactured for motivation.
Woodley, who is 5-2 since joining the UFC, isn’t like that.
“I don’t dislike them,” he said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “My emotion comes from if someone’s giving me some inkling that they don’t want to fight or that they are not 100 percent confident or they’re overconfident. I vibe off those emotions, but I don’t really fight for the war. I want to dominate the guy. I want to go out there, hit, not get hit, and I want to go out there and put on a performance. I want to be able to fight again. I don’t want to be banged up and stuff like that. I think guys that fight with that emotion within that fight, they get caught up in the bloody war.”
Other fighters, it seems, strongly dislike Woodley and don’t feel he’s deserving of a title shot. In May, UFC fighter Matt Brown called Woodley “a bitch.” He also said he’d “fight him in the (bleeping) street for free.”
That doesn’t bother Woodley?
“Not at all,” he said. “Those guys want to be where I’m at. Matt Brown has never beaten a top-10 opponent in his entire career in the UFC. I’ve had seven fights and I’m fighting for a world title. Most of my peers have had 30 fights. I was watching Michael Bisping. I think he had 19 victories in the UFC. If you haven’t fought for a world title in 19 victories, it might not have done you so well to say I’ll fight anybody, anytime, and taking these match-ups that don’t make sense. Within seven fights, I’m fighting for UFC gold, and July 30, I’ll be the world champ.”
Lawler, who beat Johny Hendricks for the belt at UFC 181 in December 2014 has successfully defended his championship twice. He knocked out Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 (punches) in July 2015 and won a split decision against Carlos Condit at UFC 195 in January 2016. Lawyer’s last four fights have all gone five rounds.
Both Lawler and Woodley are 34 years old. That might be old for the NFL or NBA, but it isn’t old for MMA.
“Our sport is a little different,” Woodley said. “You start getting that old-man strength and you start getting a little more wiser. In the beginning of your career, you’re more durable, you’re in better condition, you’re a little more reckless and more likely to try different things. As you get older, you start to refine your technique. You start to get better. So within our sport, around 33 to 37 is when guys actually peak. So I’m not even really at my peak yet. So I’m thinking I’ll probably fight my contract out and sail off into the sun with some stacks on deck. I don’t want to be the guy that’s punch drunk and can’t hold his grandkids because he hung in there too long.”
Interestingly enough, Woodley will see Brown at UFC 201. The 35-year-old will fight Jake Ellenberger in a welterweight bout.
“I guarantee you he won’t say a word to me,” Woodley said of Brown. “The guys that are really, really about that type of life, they don’t have to talk about it. He’s doing the stuff in the media, but when he goes there, I guarantee he won’t say a word to me because I’m not that type of guy. I grew up in the streets What he said, he could get extremely hurt for something like that. You don’t call a man the b-word. But if I respond, what happens? I got four or five guys taking shots at me from the division – because what? They want to be where I’m at. And if they didn’t think I was going to win, they would never give me that attention. So they know what’s coming up. It’s a new champion that’s going to take over.”