EXCLUSIVE | Tyron Woodley: I Was Ready To Make a Statement For Myself & the Guys From Strikeforce | UFC NEWS
30-year-old Tyron Woodley made his mixed martial arts debut four years ago for a small promotion called Headhunter Productions in Columbia Missouri. After going undefeated in seven amateur bouts, Woodley took on Steve Schnider and won via submission (strikes) in just 69 seconds.
Woodley would compete on the regional circuit just once more before being signed by Strikeforce to fight on the undercard of the Jake Shields-Robbie Lawler card in St. Louis during the summer of 2009. After defeating Sal Woods to run his professional career to 3-0, Woodley won his next seven fights including victories over Nathan Coy, Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine, Paul Daley and Jordan Mein.
The recurring theme here is Woodley doesn’t like to sit back and wait for things to happen. He wants to fight the best at all times and isn’t keen on wasting any opportunities. After knocking veteran Jay Hieron out in just 36 seconds in his UFC debut at UFC 156 Woodley tried to position himself for a spot on March’s UFC 158 card should one of the scheduled welterweights fall victim to an injury.
It almost worked as Rory MacDonald was knocked out of his rematch with Carlos Condit. Unfortunately for Woodley, Johny Hendricks stepped in against Condit and Nate Marquardt replaced Hendricks against Jake Ellenberger. For now Woodley waits, but he knows his time will come.
“Right now they are fishing around for an opponent that makes the most sense for me,” Woodley told BJPenn.Com Radio. “I was ready to make a statement for myself as well as the guys from Strikeforce. I had gotten the win (against Hieron), I was injury free and back training and I was so excited to get back in there. There were way too many welterweights on that card for everyone to go in healthy. If I had my new deal done a little sooner I might have gotten one of those fights.”
Saturday night at UFC 157, Robbie Lawler made his return to the UFC with a first round knockout of perennial top 10 welterweight Josh Koscheck. With both Woodley and Lawler coming off of first round victories within a few weeks of one another, that could be a fight that makes sense for the UFC to book. According to Woodley, taking on Lawler is not something that makes sense for him.
“I don’t like that fight, Lawler is a guy who helps me train at ATT now,” said Woodley. “It’s hard to get a heavy hitting southpaw to train with and we could be on the opposite ends of the bracket tearing down the division. I like to fight guys that have either for fought for a world title or are close to fighting for one. Guys like Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Rory McDonald or Demain Maia. All of those guys interest me because style wise I think I match up very well with them. If you’re going to take a risk then let it all out because everyone is tough in the welterweight division.”
Hieron has always been one of the tougher welterweights outside of the UFC. He was a former IFL Welterweight Champion and in some people’s eyes defeated current Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren only to have the judges award Askren the fight via split decision. Woodley knew what he was getting into when he signed on to fight Hieron and certainly made a statement in his first trip inside the Octagon.
“A lot of people have to realize that Jay Hieron only had six losses,” Woodley stated. “He has wins in every major organization outside of the UFC and when he fought for the UFC he has losses to guys like Jake Ellenberger, who is edging toward the top of the division and George St. Pierre. He had never been knocked out, he was TKO’ed once by GSP and submitted once, but other than that he lost by decision. This is a guy who is tough and wasn’t going to go away easy so I knew I was going to have to take it to him.”