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Tyron Woodley targets first quarter of 2018 for UFC return

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UFC 209: Woodley v Thompson 2 Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

One of the most active champions in the game is targeting a return for the first quarter of 2018.

That champion would be current UFC welterweight king Tyron Woodley, who has successfully undergone surgery to repair a bum shoulder. Woodley had fought in four title fights in the span of just 12 months and needed to reboot before another championship reign next year.

“I had orthoscopic surgery on my right shoulder,” Woodley said in a recent interview with TMZ Sports. “My shoulder was beat up a lot more than what they thought. I had bone spurs in there. They had to tack down my labrum and clean out some other stuff. I’m going to come back as the bionic man.”

“The reason I came (to South Florida) is Dr. (James) Andrews,” Woodley added. “He’s very, very famous for the shoulder surgery, and also the Tommy John surgery to the elbow. He’s supposed to be the No. 1 surgeon in the country for these types of injuries. I came out here for that purpose alone.

“With the stem cell and (platelet rich plasma injections), the new technology and science, I’m going to be fighting in the first quarter of next year. In two months, I’ll be punching something.”

Well, there you have it. “The Chosen One” believes he’ll be able to make an Octagon return sometime within the first few months of 2018. In that return, Woodley could very well face former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, who is coming off a five-round beatdown over Robbie Lawler earlier this month.

But even despite RDA’s masterful performance against “Ruthless,” Woodley isn’t ready to crown him the next guy in line.

“I wasn’t too impressed with him, to be honest,” Woodley said. “I wasn’t too impressed with the performance. Just because people are punching and swinging, if you’re punching and swinging and you’re missing or you’re hitting gloves and elbows, that ain’t precision to me. When you’re landing good powerful shots and making it count, and I wasn’t really thrilled with the IQ of both guys.

“Would I be open to fighting him? Yeah. But is he the top fighter on my list? No.”

Whether or not dos Anjos is the next welterweight to challenge Woodley’s reign, the champion must first get healthy enough to defend his title. Once Woodley is back in full form, the UFC welterweight title picture should play out quite nicely, especially if this guy comes back to the division.