It is with confidence that Tyron Woodley approaches his June 15 match with multiple world title winner, Jake Shields. Woodley, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, took some time from his training if Florida to talk with BJPenn.com Radio about his UFC 161 fight.
“I think it’s an awesome fight for me,” said Woodley. “Styles make fights, and I think it’s a good stylistic match-up for myself. I think basically, every way to win this fight, in my opinion, is to my advantage. His only one way- you know, he can talk about knocking people out, I don’t know if he’s every knocked anybody out in his life. I don’t know if he’s dazed anybody in his life with a punch. He might have scored somebody with a guillotine choke or rear naked choke and made him squeeze their eyes closed, but I don’t think he’s ever punched anybody and damaged them with a punch. So for me, I think he’s trying to psych himself up. He’s got a really big name, a big following. You know, he was champion of Rumble on the Rock, Elite XC, Strikeforce; he’s got a lot of names and a lot of followers. He’d be a good high-profile fight for me. I’m not taking him lightly at all. I think he’s world-class on the ground. I think guys that have taken him lightly- like Dan Henderson, guys like Robbie Lawler- I think they were overwhelmed by his pressure and his ability to keep being persistent and aggressive with the takedown. I’m giving him all the respect, but at the end of the day I’m not walking out of that cage without the win.”
As far as a game plan, Woodley is banking on a sizeable advantage in a number of aspects: speed, athleticism, and wrestling- to name just a few.
“The good thing about this fight is that I have ten ways to win it; he has one. You know, he says he’s a more experienced fighter, he’s a better grappler. He is a better grappler; but he’s probably a better swimmer as well, and we’re not going in the pool. I’m not going into a jiu jitsu game. For him to make that comment is kind of funny, because he’s not equal to wrestling as me. He said the wrestling is even. That’s a disrespect. That’s like me saying that my wrestling is even to an Olympian, you know? He hasn’t been a Division-I All American. If he thinks he’s going to just take me down with ease and get through knees and uppercuts and punches and angles and athletic [ability] and speed and power, he’s got another thing coming. I just plan on beating him like a drum for 15 minutes straight, or I can finish him. I don’t think I’m [taking him] lightly. I know he will be persistent, he will try to bum-rush me, he will try to get me against the cage. He’s very crafty, I’ve been watching some of the smaller things, watching his video today. He has ways of doing it. If he thinks that I’m going to buy into the fact that he’s going to stand up with me, and he’s going to knock me out, it didn’t work. I know what he’s gonna do; everyone knows what he’s gonna do. I’m planning to stop that, and I’m planning to make him pay every time he tries to take me down.”
“Usually I try to keep where I’m training a secret,” said Woodley of his training leading up to the match. “I try to keep what I’m doing and my game plan [secret]. But for this fight, you know, I’m just going to put it out there: I’m submitting Jake Shields. I’m going out there, and I’m tapping him out. I’m going to take him down, I’m gonna hold him against the cage, and I’m tapping him out.”
While this prediction may surprise a lot of fans given Shields’ extensive grappling background, Woodley trusts his world-class wrestling skills and his training at American Top Team to give him an edge if the fight hits the ground. Additionally, Woodley seems intimately familiar with his opponent’s ground game.
“He’s a completely different [on his back], really his success comes from half-guard. He usually sweeps guys over. He has a couple of tricky sweeps he does that we’ve been kind of working on and looking over. So if you do take him down, he’ll sweep you in a manner that he ends up in half-guard on top. From there, you know, I give him his credit. I don’t disrespect the kid. I didn’t like this fight or want this fight because he was some chump off the street. The kid has been champion in 7 different organizations, and he’s fought for a [UFC] world title. But I know what he’s really good at: he’s good at passing guard, he’s good at getting mounts, he’s good at going back to half-guard, passing. He does basic jiu jitsu, but he does it in blocks: back and forth, side to side, mount, going for the armbar, going for the triangle. So he wears your butt out. There’s something to be said for him doing that, but from his back, if he doesn’t get to half-guard, and if he’s on his back in a guard, he’s gonna get punched. I don’t care what kind of black belt you are, when you’re getting elbowed in the face, and you’re getting punched, somebody’s eyes are wide open looking at you like you look like lunch, it’s going to be a different game. I think he’ll see that in this fight.”
Aside from jiu jitsu, many are giving a sizeable advantage to Shields in terms of experience. Indeed, the fighter out of San Francisco has held titles in Elite XC, Shooto and Strikeforce. For Woodley, however, the years of high-level competition under Shields’ belt has brought about a consistency that may actually be an advantage to the younger fighter.
“When we get in that cage June 15, it’s going to be a whole different story than what he’s planning for and what he’s looking on video, because I’m still getting better. Those guys: that’s as good as Jake’s ever gonna be. Look at his last ten fights and tell me the difference. Nothing! He’s the best he’s ever gonna be. He could go to Thailand and live there and train 24 hours a day, and he’s still gonna be pretty similar to where he’s at. For me, I’m young enough in the sport where you’re going to see things get better each and every fight. I think those are blessings in disguise.”
Woodley’s final prediction for the fight: “I predict me frustrating Jake Shields. I predict him trying to touch my leg. I predict me abusing him and basically giving him a whoopin’ just like a kid that did something their parents told them not to. And I’m going to do that for 15 minutes, and if he gives me any gap, any wince that he wants to get taken out, then I’m gonna take him out. That’s the game plan. I’ll try to finish him off with the hands, if not, I plan on winning every single round.”
Be sure to look for more from this interview with Tyron Woodley in the coming days. You can listen the entire interview below, which also features Chris Lytle and Josh Thomson.
Be sure to catch all the action for UFC 161 on June 15. The event will take place at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at 7/10pm PT/ET.Tags: BJPenn.Com Radio, BJPennDotCom Radio, Chris Lytle, Dan Henderson, Jake Shields, Josh Thomson, mma, MMA NEWS, Nick Diaz, robbie lawler, Tyron woodley, ufc, UFC 161, ufc news