It’s no secret that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley have not always been on the best of terms. Heck, company president Dana White didn’t even bother to speak with “The Chosen One” after he routed and submitted Darren Till at UFC 228 this past weekend inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas (highlights).
This UFC 228 post-fight pic pretty much sums up everything:
All Woodley wants is to be loved Dana!!! LOVE HIM!!!! pic.twitter.com/Vw0HiLJXAW— colin lawrence (@C_LawAFC) September 11, 2018
Indeed, Woodley had his back up against the wall this past weekend, coming into the bout with Till on the heels of three lackluster matches against the always-dangerous Demian Maia and his top-shelf Brazilian jiu-jitsu and two snoozers opposite Stephen Thompson (one of which White thought “Wonderboy” won). Woodley, of course, wasn’t shy about defending his performance(s).
Nevertheless, UFC seemed intent on moving in a different 170-pound direction with Till. And had that panned out there was a laundry list of worthy contenders for “The Gorilla” to fight waiting in the wings, including Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman and Rafael dos Anjos, among others.
It’s a scenario not lost on Woodley nor his coach, Din Thomas (via MMAFighting.com).
“He understood what Darren Till was capable of and respected it throughout camp. Some of the other guys, with like Demian Maia or even ‘Wonderboy,’ it was like we knew that we had that puzzle to solve, but he never really felt like those guys could hurt him and put him away and embarrass him,” Thomas said. “But, he knew that Darren Till, if Darren Till was able to get off, he knew that Darren Till could embarrass him. So he said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to let this happen. I can’t afford to lose. The position I’m in now, the position that the world treats me, the way the UFC and everybody treats me, I cannot lose this fight.’”
Woodley was the embodiment of class after his big win. He didn’t gloat. He didn’t complain. He just won. He won huge. And, in the process, he reminded fight fans — and hopefully Dana White and Co. — of what he’s capable of inside the Octagon. Sure, that explosive talent has always been in there, somewhere, the previous three fights, but Woodley has explained he’s not going to “force opportunities.”
In hindsight, it’s hard to blame him with his mixed martial arts (MMA) career basically on the line.
“I was saying that if Tyron loses that fight, he might as well retire,” Thomas continued. “He was in a do-or-die position, because they’re going to push him way to the back. If Tyron loses that fight, they would’ve never given him a rematch. He would’ve had to fight every top guy coming up. His next fight would’ve been (Kamaru) Usman and then Leon Edwards and then Santiago Ponzinibbio. He would never have been in a position to get back to that title, so he cannot lose.”