Tyron Woodley’s biggest fight of his career was also his toughest.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion’s crowning moment took place in July 2016 opposite one of his old training partners at American Top Team (ATT), Robbie Lawler. “Ruthless” had enjoyed a fun reign as titleholder post-Georges St-Pierre up until the battle with Woodley, defending his throne twice in instant classics. The case couldn’t be said for the Woodley encounter, however.
Just over two minutes into their bout and Woodley halted Lawler’s time as the divisional kingpin, scoring the knockout blow with a huge right-hand bomb. Despite the lack of trouble Woodley faced in the fight itself, “The Chosen One” admits it was far from easy.
“This fight was particularly tough for me,” Woodley posted on Instagram. “I had an 18 month lay off from an injury from a fight and canceled opponents. I loved @ruthless_rl for his humility, comeback story and his warrior spirit. My family loved him. Back to back fighter of the year. With @romac_gorilla (Rory MacDonald) and @carloscondit fights being top 5 ww fights of all time. My son had him as his favorite fighter on school project above me. We were teammates and i cheered him on. He brought the first @ufc strap to @americantopteam . We were the first teammates to fight each other in a title fight. Was very emotional. It divided the team. @dinthomas did his best even though being falsely accused of videoing his session. My dog still stayed the course. I had two major injuries and we were close to have to pull out the fight, but we walked by faith. Out of respect for Robbie i didn’t train at @americantopteam and @danlambertatt blessed me to train with @coachdukeroufus at @roufusport Love both guys dearly. Thankful for these two for pushing me @blamebiggie (Mike Rhodes) @the_gm3 (Gerald Meerschaert) Brothers for life!
“Today i really want to celebrate a living legend in a sport were the martial art spirit is lost. #RuthlessRL” he concluded.
The timing of Woodley’s reflection comes at an appropriate time as Lawler had his next bout announced this week (Aug. 16, 2022). At UFC 282 on Dec. 10, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada, it will be Lawler versus Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio.