Over the last two years, Tyron Woodley has quietly gone from one of the best in the UFC welterweight division to knocking on the door of pound for pound greatness. His elevation to the elite of the elite just isn’t obvious. The undisputed welterweight champ isn’t going to promote himself as something he’s not. He’s a family man, an All-American, and someone who wants to win. Period. Tyron Woodley has no use for silly flashes of bravado in which fists fly, careers are shortened, and a loss can easily be added to a Wikipedia page.
This has led to a contentious relationship with fans for the 35-year-old. His tendency to get in fights some consider boring without understanding the context of the action in the cage has bounced him from exciting knockout to 25-minute chess matches, which can be confusing to the average viewer. Woodley can wear a lot of hats in the Octagon. He’s defeated one of the greatest strikers in the welterweight division in Stephen Thompson, one of the best brawlers in Robbie Lawler, and arguably the greatest MMA grappler ever in Demian Maia. He can do it all, but he won’t ever not be himself.
Now his on-again, off-again feud with UFC president Dana White has started anew, and for a guy who mostly lets his performances in the cage do the talking, it’s added a new dimension to his persona. It puts his win/loss record in a different light.
UPROXX: It’s funny that I’m getting to talk to you because I was just last week, I was writing a piece titled “Tyron Woodley’s feud with Dana White is Finally Making me a Fan”. But now, supposedly, you’re squashing the beef. What’s going on with that?
Tyron Woodley: I’m really not going to give any more public attention to it. I mean, we still, as professionals, obviously … It’s his boat and I’m just trying to make sure I’m on the boat, traveling to the motherland, but I think it’s a respectful way we can operate. There are some things that I would like to be done a little bit differently and I’m pretty sure some things that they would like for me to do a little differently and I think it’s worth of a conversation of us sitting down and trying to figure out, because at the end of the day, it’s a partnership, you know? You both should be helping each other, they should be helping me, promoting me, and I should be helping promote the fight so that I win and they win.
It seems like you’re invalidating a lot of the complaints the fans and Dana have against you, because how can you call someone who kicks the ass of the best of the best strikers and the best grapplers, boring?
The unfortunate truth about our sport right now is it’s very fair weather. There was a time when guys just loved the wrestlers, there was a time when guys loved the jiu jitsu guys when it first started, a guy that weighed 30 pounds less than a guy, the ability to submit him and make him, force him to tap out. Then it got to an era when f you were in those bloodbath fights, like a Stephan Bonner versus Forrest Griffin or Gilbert Melendez versus Diego Sanchez, any kind of back and forth, that’s what our sport likes now. They like that, they also want you to talk a little crap, wear a fly suit, and it’s not so much about the sport aspect of it. There’s no “this guy is the best guy in this division.”