The UFC’s welterweight division is turning out to be one of the most talent-rich weight classes in mixed martial arts (MMA) today. Not only does a worthy champion in Tyron Woodley sit atop the divisional throne, but contenders like Rafael dos Anjos, Stephen Thompson, Colby Covington, Darren Till, Robbie Lawler, Kamaru Usman, and Santiago Ponzinibbio are all jockeying for their shot at UFC gold.
While Woodley has been hampered with a bum shoulder and will not return until later this year, “Chosen One” will have the opportunity to witness the welterweight carnage first hand and see which contender rises to the top. Two of those title threats, Thompson and Till, will duke it out at UFC Fight Night 130 on May 27 from Liverpool, England, with the winner possibly scoring a No. 1 contender’s bout.
Despite Woodley’s past history with “Wonderboy,” which includes two title fights in the span of four months, the UFC champion is picking Thompson to take care of Till overseas and keep another young contender at bay.
“‘Wonderboy’ the gatekeeper,” Woodley said earlier this week during Q&A on Instagram Live (h/t MMAjunkie). “He’ll do all my light work for me. All the dudes that think they want a shot at the strap, they’ve got to go through him, and ain’t nobody do it yet. I think Thompson (will win) man, to be honest. I know I’ve talked a lot of trash about Thompson, more in light joking. But Thompson is a very difficult puzzle to figure out. And it took me a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of training partners to figure him out.
“I just don’t think Till has what it takes to take him out. With that said, I’ve got to go with ‘Wonderboy,’ even though he’s never said I was going to win a fight. But I’m just going to be a real guy and be honest: I think he’s going to win.”
Till, 25, is coming off a huge knockout win over Donald Cerrone this past October and truly believes he’s the best fighter in the world. So even though Thompson represents one of the biggest puzzles in mixed martial arts (MMA) today, Till is extremely dangerous and capable of figuring out a path to victory.
As for Woodley’s own return to the Octagon, the welterweight champ isn’t really hung up on who he’s going to fight next. After squashing all of his beef earlier this year, “Chosen One” is happy to sit back and defend his title against anyone and everyone.
“I don’t even want to talk about who I want next because any time I mention a fighter, for some reason people have a different approach about it,” Woodley said. “I would rather just go out there and whoop everybody’s ass one by one. Whoever you guys and the UFC decides I’m going to fight next, that’s the person who is going to get the biz, and after that there’s not going to be nobody left.”
The winner of a potential interim title fight between RDA and Covington would obviously be the next man in line to fight Woodley, but nothing is for certain. We’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach as the champion heals up and returns to training.