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Rafael dos Anjos says Tyron Woodley delayed shoulder surgery to land ‘bigger fight’

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

With current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley sidelined for the foreseeable future with a bum shoulder, former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos will lock horns with Colby Covington this June at UFC 225 for the interim 170-pound strap.

Woodley, who tore his labrum in a successful title defense over Brazilian veteran Demian Maia at UFC 214 this past summer, was expected to return in the coming months, but “Chosen One” presented UFC president Dana White with a doctor’s note when asked to fight.

What makes things even more frustrating, especially for contenders like RDA and Covington looking to get a piece of the champion, is the fact that Woodley has openly discussed his interest in fighting top draws like Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, and Nate Diaz. Those callouts all took place during a time when Woodley was unsure of getting surgery on his shoulder. Once those matchups dissolved, the welterweight champion went under the knife.

As you could imagine, that uncertainty and consistent flip-flopping doesn’t sit well with a ready and willing contender like dos Anjos.

“Here’s the thing: I was ready to fight Woodley,” dos Anjos said during a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “After I beat (Robbie) Lawler (last December), I thought that Woodley would be the next guy.

“Long story short, after the Demian Maia fight, after Woodley fought Demian, he knew he hurt his shoulder. He should get surgery right away. He took six months to get surgery, right? And then he wants to fight (Michael) Bisping, and then he wants to fight (Nate) Diaz, and then GSP, then Conor (McGregor). None of these fights happened, so he knew the next guy in line was me. So I was told that he would be ready to fight in November, December. I said no, I can’t wait that long.

“I told Sean Shelby I can’t wait that long. My last fight was December 2017. I can’t wait until December 2018. It’s one year. I have a family, I have things to do.”

Dos Anjos, who looked like a world beater in his recent unanimous decision win over Robbie Lawler this past December, has gone 3-0 since moving up to welterweight in 2017. If there was any fighter deserving of a matchup with Woodley it would be the former UFC lightweight champion.

Still, RDA’s recent success hasn’t impressed the current champion one bit, which is maybe why Woodley has brushed over a potential title fight with the Brazilian.

“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” dos Anjos said of Woodley initially holding off on having surgery. “I don’t think it’s not to fight me. He wants to fight somebody else. He wants to fight a big name. That’s what it looks like, because I was told that he said, ‘Okay, I’ll be ready to fight in June with GSP.’ No, no, Tyron, you’re going to fight RDA. ‘No, no. RDA, only in November.’ That’s it, man. I can’t wait. I have a life. I have bills to pay, like anybody, and I can’t just wait for one guy. Man, he got hurt with Maia. He should get surgery the next day. For me, as a fighter, I don’t want lose six months. Even when he had an injury, he still wanted to fight Nate Diaz. I don’t get it. If you need surgery, and you’re willing to take a fight with somebody?

“So I think he’s just trying to get a bigger fight, a bigger name.”

If dos Anjos is able to get past Covington at UFC 225 then he will undoubtedly be the next guy in line to fight Woodley. Until then, the back-and-forth talk will continue.