Few people believed that Tyron Woodley would knockout Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 this past July. Woodley certainly possessed one-punch knockout power, but Lawler was one of the pound-for-pound best strikers in mixed martial arts (MMA) who only tasted defeat via strikes once before.
So when Woodley stopped "Ruthless" early in the first round to claim the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title, fight fans around the world were thrown off guard. But in the end, "The Chosen One" did what he wanted to do to a teammate incapable of defending his most likely shot.
With the belt around his waist, the biggest power puncher in the division in his rearview and a new found popularity to call his own, Woodley has begun to pull a Michael Bisping and calls his own shots. According to Woodley, he has earned the right to pick his next opponent.
"Think about Johny Hendricks. First time Johny Hendricks got his shot, he beat [John] Koscheck, he knocked out [Martin] Kampmann, he knocked out [Jon] Fitch, he beat Carlos Condit," said Woodley during a recent edition of his podcast, The Morning Wood (h/t FOX Sports). "He got skipped over by who? Nick Diaz because he was a bigger draw. Think about Frankie Edgar. Completely wiped out the division. Did he get an immediate shot against Conor? Or was Conor able to jump weight classes? And then when that falls through, he gets to go and fight Nate Diaz. Loses the fight, is still the champion and rematches the guy."
"This is not a sport anymore, folks, and I'm not entitled to give any super smiley [expletive] a shot because I won, and they've been watching some Conor McGregor videos and think they can talk me into a fight."
Many people believed that Woodley would next meet Stephen Thompson inside of the Octagon. After all, "Wonderboy" is currently riding a seven-fight win streak, including a five-round beatdown of Rory MacDonald, a first-round TKO of former champion Johny Hendricks and three other highlight reel finishes. Still, Woodley isn't convinced Thompson is the right candidate.
"I'm not trying to diminish [his wins], but if people are going to try to take a shot at me, [Thompson] didn't beat these guys in their prime," added Woodley. "You didn't beat these guys when they were the opponents we were competing against. So yeah, you did go on a run, you did beat some great guys — Robert Whittaker, Johny and Rory — kudos, man. You are the No. 1 contender. But in the entertainment aspect, the No. 1 contender doesn't always get the shot."
If Thompson is unable to lock down a shot at the new champion, Woodley may end up defending his title for the first time against the likes of either Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz.