Although some people were put to sleep by UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley’s winning performance at UFC 214 this past July, he was able to shut down the grappling advancements of title challenger Demian Maia in rather dominant fashion. Unfortunately, Woodley vs. Maia set the record for least amount of punches thrown in a UFC championship fight and was vastly overshadowed by the other two title fights on the card (Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, Cris Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger).
What made things worse was not only a public beef between “Chosen One” and UFC president Dana White which was later squashed, but also a torn labrum that Woodley had suffered early into his fight with Maia.
Wait, there’s more.
Now a rumor has surfaced pitting former champion Robbie Lawler against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 in New York City for the interim welterweight title, while Woodley presumably rides the pine and heals. While it’s strictly a rumor at this point, Woodley has already warned the promotion of such a move in a recent interview with Bloody Elbow’s Stephie Haynes:
“If the UFC brings an interim belt, they better be ready to wage war, because I’m gonna be the most livid, most vocal—if they think that I speak out now—I mean, I’ve fought in four world title fights in less than a year. I out-brawled the brawler, Stephen Thompson was not able to look as magnificent as he’s looked against everybody else and I completely schooled Demian Maia. I fought four times in 12 months and I was prepared to fight five times in 18 months if I had been able to fight in November.
I don’t even think the word “interim” should even be fixed on the UFC’s mouth, not only because of how active I’ve been—Conor McGregor hasn’t even spoken about defending his belt. All that said, there’s still no clear contender. No matter what’s going on with me, the deck needs to be shuffled a little more anyway. You’ve got Kelvin talking about coming down, you’ve got Masvidal, you’ve got Wonderboy, Robbie Lawler, all these guys need to fight each other to see who the clear contender is. In the meantime, I’ll be watching as I heal up, and I’ll be ready to take the next one out.”
With a bum shoulder, Woodley may be out of action for the better part of six months. However, the 35-year-old has been one of the UFC’s most active champions, fighting in four title bouts over the past 12 months. That’s an incredible level of activity for someone as good as Woodley. The promotion would be foolish to diminish his championship worth heading into 2018, especially considering his stock is hurting from a not-so-fan-friendly performance at UFC 214.
That said, a No. 1 contender’s bout between Lawler and Masvidal would probably be the best move at this point. With top contender Stephen Thompson rebounding from his loss to Woodley at UFC 209 and Maia on the outskirts of another title shot, “Ruthless” and Gamebred” are just about the only 170-pound title threats left on the plate.
We will have to wait and see if UFC pulls some trickery on Woodley as he nurses his injury.