Immediately after disposing of veteran Jay Hieron in just 36 seconds at UFC 156, former Strikeforce welterweight title contender Tyron Woodley began angling to get a spot on the welterweight heavy UFC 158 card. After Rory MacDonald was injured and forced out of his co-main event rematch opposite Carlos Condit the UFC moved Johny Hendricks out of his bout with Jake Ellenberger and into the fight with Condit. That left Ellenberger without an opponent and for a while rumors were swirling that Woodley was going to get the call to take on Ellenberger.
Unfortunately for Woodley he had yet to sign his new UFC deal and the fight went to former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and the man who handed Woodley his lone professional loss, Nate Marquardt. For the time being the 30-year-old American Top Team welterweight will sit and watch UFC 158 from the sidelines, but that didn’t stop him from giving his assessment of the three big welterweight fights that occupy the last half of the main card. First up was the Marquardt-Ellenberger match-up followed by Hendricks-Condit and last, but not least the UFC Welterweight Championship bout between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz.
“Jake has a very heavy left hook and a heavy overhand right,” Woodley told BJPenn.Com Radio. “He has the ability to go for a double leg quite often, both of those guys are so similar. Nate’s a little bit bigger, he might hit a little harder, he’ll throw in some kicks and his ground game is better. I don’t know how Nate is feeling after his last fight (against Tarec Saffiedine) and if his leg is 100% healed up. Ellenberger is as hungry as ever as he tries to make his crack towards the top. He wanted that Hendricks fight because he knew how close Johny was to that world title. It’ll be interesting, the way things are going to play out in this division over the next three months will be pretty crazy.”
Just to backtrack a little we asked Woodley if he was surprised with how the fight went down between Marquardt and Saffedine last month in Oklahoma. Woodley has competed against both men inside the Strikeforce cage so his opinion comes with a lot of merit.
“Nate’s a hard hitter and I said if he could get Tarec out within the first three rounds he would win the fight,” admitted Woodley. “As the fight progressed towards the later rounds I felt Saffedine would have an edge. He was a very hungry kid when I fought him, I felt that we fought too soon. I said this is a guy that’s going to be a future champion and we should be fighting for a world championship. Instead we fought as prospects coming up, I knew he was going to start chopping those legs, but I thought he’d switch it up and throw some headkicks. He was landing them so well and so often, why would he stop throwing them?”
Back to UFC 158, there are two other welterweight battles that should be fantastic fights. Former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit will face the man many feel is the rightful number one welterweight contender in Johny Hendricks. In the main event Georges St. Pierre will defend his title against Nick Diaz in a bout that has been a long time in the making.
“Hendricks is a fight I wouldn’t mind having in the future,” Woodley said. “I think he’s a nightmare for all those guys because the way he comes forward. He’s coming from the southpaw stance with heavy hands and a decent chin and a great wrestling pedigree. He comes in there and throws everything hard. I think guys who can get in close to Condit, hit him inside and put him on his back are the ones who pose a threat. If he can keep Hendricks on the end of his punches and make it a kickboxing match, similar like he did with Diaz, he has a chance to pull it off.”
“I think GSP is going to take Diaz down until his back gets rug burns on it. I don’t think Diaz can submit him and he’ll lose by decision. If GSP lets Diaz get inside of his head with his antics, his taunting and entertains a striking battle that’ll put Diaz in the game. He didn’t entertain it with Josh Koscheck and I don’t see him doing it with Diaz. I think he’ll stick to the script and be the champion he’s always been. He’ll go out there, stick to a strict gameplan and get the win.”"bj Penn", bjpenndotcom, BJPennDotCom Radio, blogtalk radio, Carlos Condit, Exclusive, featured, georges st. pierre, jake ellenberger, Jay Hieron, johny hendricks, Josh Koscheck, MMA NEWS, mma podcasts, Nate Marquardt, Nick Diaz, Rory MacDonald, Strikeforce, strikeforce welterweight championship, tarec Saffiedine, Tyron woodley, ufc 156, UFC 158, ufc news, ufc welterweight championship