Tyron Woodley on Nate Marquardt: “I’m Not Fighting Some Veteran Who is Out of His Prime”
Undefeated Contender Says “I Need to Crack The Top Ten”
By Kelsey Mowatt
If a fighter has won all eight of their bouts with a promotion and has defeated several of its more established fighters along the way, one shouldn’t be surprised if they launch a public campaign for a title shot. Of course, the latter describes the undefeated Tyron Woodley, who on July 14th will finally get his wish when he fights Nate Marquardt for Strikeforce’s vacant welterweight belt.
“It definitely felt good,” said Woodley (10-0), who will meet Marquardt (31-01-2) at the Rose Garden Arena, in Portland, Oregon. “It really allowed me to focus more and think about what the title means to me. It used to be being the champion meant you were the top guy but it’s so much more now. It’s for my family, my gym, American Top Team, everyone who believes in me.”
The title shot arrives approximately seven months after Woodley defeated Jordan Mein by split decision, and nearly a year later from when he handed Paul Daley a unanimous decision loss at Strikeforce’s “Fedor vs. Henderson” event last July.
“There was a lot of speculation; for me it wasn’t so much anxiety, it just got to the point where I realized it was out my control,” said Woodley, who for some time has been heralded as the promotion’s number one contender, and many expected would fight former champion Nick Diaz before he left for the UFC. “I knew that everybody that I fought was going to be a tough opponent.”
“I had to be prepared to fight someone tough if it was for the belt or not,” the ATT Evolution fighter added. “Daley, Jordan Mein, Tarec Saffiedine, and all those guys are no joke.”
Of course, while Woodley has been busy racking up wins in the Strikeforce welterweight division, he will now fight a man for the title, who has yet to make his promotional debut.
“I’m okay that he’s coming in and fighting me,” said Woodley about Marquardt, who has not competed since March, 2011, when he scored a UD win over Dan Miller while competing in the UFC as a middleweight. “If he had come in and fought someone else then I would have been left out of the box and I would have had a problem.”
“I just think he’s the biggest name in terms of the organization, and when Daley was there I wanted to fight him, and when Diaz was there I wanted to fight him,” Woodley added. “I want some name recognition and I need to crack the top ten. I need to be viewed as one of the top ten welterweights so I can work towards cracking the top five.”
While Marquardt has yet to compete for Strikeforce, as Woodley noted, due to the 33 year-old-fighter’s abilities and accomplishments, he’s without question one of the promotion’s biggest stars.
“It’s not like I’m fighting some veteran who is out of his prime; I’m fighting a guy who’s trying to reinvent himself,” said Woodley about Marquardt, whose only losses since 2007 have come against Chael Sonnen, Thales Leites and Yushin Okami. “He wasn’t doing all that bad when he was still competing at 185. I’m fighting a guy who still has that competitive fire and is still a top fighter.”
Although Marquardt’s most recent losses came against powerful grapplers in Sonnen and Okami, the former All American Division 1 wrestler understands there are significant challenges ahead.
“He’s the most well rounded fighter I’ve fought,” Woodley told Full Contact Fighter. “I have to be ready on every level. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he’s not an easy guy to take down, he’s a good counter puncher and he has devastating submissions and knockouts. For me, I just have to make sure I’m firing on all cylinders and I think it will be a good night for me.”