Tyron Woodley: “I Feel Like I Am The Uncrowned World Champion”
Soft spoken superstar losing patience while he awaits a title shot
By Joshua Molina
The welterweight (170 pounds) division is perhaps the most schizophrenic weight class in all of mixed martial arts.
George St. Pierre, regarded as the best welterweight on the planet, hasn’t fought in nearly a year, since he defeated Jake Shields. St. Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion, has been out of action, recovering from an ACL injury.
In St. Pierre’s absence, the UFC has crowned an interim champ, Carlos Condit, who was awarded a highly controversial decision over MMA bad boy Nick Diaz, earlier this month. The decision, which prompted a disgusted Diaz to announce his retirement immediately afterwards, also sparked a furious debate amongst fans, the media and industry insiders.
But all of that might still be better than the state of the welterweight division in Strikeforce, the number two promotion in MMA. Strikeforce doesn’t even have a champion in the division.
The Strikeforce welterweight division has quickly unraveled since the UFC purchased the former rival promotion a year ago.
Which brings us to Tyron Woodley, a 29-year-old fighter who has, in many ways, fallen victim to a business experiencing dramatic change. The undefeated Woodley, 10-0. is a former college wrestling star at the University of Missouri and one of the best wrestlers in MMA.
But he can’t seem to get a title shot. Not yet, anyway.
“I feel like I am the uncrowned world champion,” Woodley told Full Contact Fighter.
Woodley, a soft-spoken, humble man who doesn’t embrace the brash-talking style or charged Twitter-rantings that garner attention for other fighters, is tired of waiting.
Now, he’s demanding the next title shot. The next time he steps in the cage, he said, it better be for the title.
“I am not even going to tell you what I would I say if I don’t get the next shot,” Woodley said.
Woodley said he’s been promised a title shot repeatedly over the last year.
Now’s he’s in the mix for a crack at the vacant crown, probably facing the winner of the March 3 battle between Paul Daley and Kazuo Misaki in Columbus, Oh. Tarec Saffiedine is also rumored to be in the title hunt.
Woodley said he will fight anybody, but he’d rather not step into the cage with someone he already beat. He already holds decision victories over Daley and Saffiedine.
“I want to fight (Kazuo) Misaki,” Woodley said.
In addition to being a skilled, smart fighter inside the cage, Woodley also seems to have a brain for the business side of the sport. He said he understands Strikeforce has been in turmoil.
But like anyone taken for granted for too long, Woodley is tired of sitting back and watching.
“I have been patient,” Woodley said.
Although there’s a lot of talent in the welterweight division, Woodley believes he is among the best. He is a student of the sport and has some thoughts on the fighters in his division.
He said Condit fought a technically brilliant fight to win the interim title against Diaz. He also believes Diaz fought great, even though he didn’t get the decision.
“I don’t think Diaz lost anything in that fight,” Woodley said.
Woodley also said he doesn’t hold anything against Diaz either for testing positive for marijuana after the Condit fight.
“It’s legal in California (where Diaz lives) and everyone knows he uses medicinal marijuana,” Woodley said.
Although Woodley would love to fight Diaz, Condit or St. Pierre one day, right now he’s only focused on what he believes is his: the Strikeforce welterweight championship.
“I feel like I have been the champion for a long time now,” Woodley said.