Ever since claiming the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title back at UFC 201 — where he flatlined Robbie Lawler with an overhand right in the very first round — Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) has been campaigning for a title defense against Stockton’s own Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC).
While the Diaz brothers have always been fan favorites, the majority of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and media both, were questioning Woodley’s intentions by calling out Diaz. It’s not necessarily that Woodley vs. Diaz wouldn’t draw pay-per-view (PPV) numbers or that it wouldn’t be a great fight, but mostly because the callout came out of left field.
When Woodley asked Diaz for a fight at UFC 201, he was just coming off of his five-year suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission — which was reduced to 18 months — and Diaz hadn’t won a fight since defeating BJ Penn back at UFC 137 in 2011. Since his win, he has fought and lost to Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva (eventually switched to a No Contest).
Woodley — being a powerful wrestler — also wouldn’t be the best match-up for Diaz. So ultimately, it left fans and media puzzled as to why Woodley would want a fight with someone like Diaz right at this minute.
To add to the bizarreness, Woodley was apparently close to possibly fighting Stockton’s own on the upcoming UFC 209 card. According to rumor mill however, Diaz has been turning down fights for the 209 card.
Joe Rogan recently stated on his podcast, that Diaz had turned down a fight with Robbie Lawler for the card. BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor has also stated that Diaz turned down fights with both Woodley and UFC lightweight champion, Conor McGregor. So, what’s the hold up?
Woodley had the opportunity to speak upon this topic with Chris Taylor of BJPenn.com:
“I just asked Nick. I saw Nick in a night club. We hosted a party at Hakkasan. I was with TJ and Demetrious Johnson and Cody Garbrandt hosted his party there. So I see Nick Diaz there and went up and asked him. It is not like Nick is scared of fighting you know,” Woodley said laughing. “He’s not scared to fight me or Robbie or Conor McGregor. Nick wants to get paid man. He’s held out in the past and it has worked out in his favor. He went out there and fought Anderson Silva for close to a million bucks. He knows that he pushes the needle. Plus there is a card, 209, so he understands what he is worth to that card. So I can’t knock him for that. It’s more of a situation of him wanting to get paid.”
It makes sense in the end. Both Diaz brothers have been advocates for higher fighter pay and compensation for the past several years — and especially with the recent payouts made to McGregor, Rousey, Lesnar, and Nate Diaz — Nick will hold out until he gets his worth. Woodley, on the opposite hand, wants to reach those heights of stardom.
“This is the honest truth man. I can sit here an act like I am Bruce Almighty but Nick Diaz is a bigger draw than me,” said Woodley. “He is a bigger name than me. Me fighting him and me wanting to fight Nick is because I recognize and realize that I am the world champion but Nick Diaz is a legend. He has had to fight the guys like Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Frank Shamrock. He has had to have wars with Georges and BJ Penn to get his name to where it is. So all I am trying to do is fight the Robbie Lawler’s, fight the Nick Diaz’s , GSP’s and Conor McGregor’s so that I can become a name that enters in to the legend category. Then people will want to fight me for the same reason I want to fight Nick. That’s all it is. There is nothing personal. I respect him as a fighter.”
Woodley recognizes the importance of higher paydays in this sport, and he wants to take full advantage of that now that he’s the UFC welterweight champion. As a fight fan and writer, I cannot blame him one bit.