Despite what Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White may want you to believe, Tyron Woodley has been very busy and successful as Welterweight champion. After winning the strap in 2016, “The Chosen One” has defended it successfully four times, only taking time off to undergo UFC doctor-mandated surgery.
Up next for Woodley is a title fight against Kamaru Usman, which is expected to co-headline UFC 235 on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. And while there are still several other worthy challengers at 170 pounds chomping at the bit for their shot, Woodley says he may very well move up to Middleweight to win gold there later this year.
“People in the middleweight (division), they need to watch out too. I might slide up on one of y’all by the end of the year,” Woodley said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show via ESPN. “Wipe out the division clean at welterweight and go up there and either beat (Kelvin) Gastelum up again or take out Robert Whittaker. They are both welterweights anyways. They just don’t know how to cut weight.”
Woodley does hold a win over Gastelum already, taking out the current No. 1 middleweight contender via split decision at UFC 183. As for a title fight against Whittaker, that wouldn’t be too bad on the eyes, as both men hit like trucks and have a well-rounded attack to keep things very interesting.
And while Tyron does have Kamaru standing in front of him, he doesn’t seem too worried about what “The Nigerian Nightmare” brings to the table.
“Kamaru Usman? He’s not ready for me yet. He’s not mature enough in the sport yet to be able to withstand what I’m going to bring at him,” Woodley said. “What’s Kamaru going to do, take me down? He’s going to out-strike me? He’s going to punch harder than me? He’s going to out-strategize me with fight IQ? He’s a version of myself five years ago.”
Usman is undefeated so far is in his Octagon career, scoring nine straight victories over the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Leon Edwards and Demian Maia to earn his first-ever shot at a UFC world title. that said, he has as good as chance as any to give Woodley fits and dethrone him him at 170 pounds.
As far as Woodley’s champ-champ goals, a win over Usman could finally lock up a title fight against Colby Covington, which means he will have to win at least one more bout at 170 pounds before he starts lobbying for a title fight at a weight class above.
Which at this point seems like a lot of work ahead for Tyron given his strained relationship with Dana White.