The UFC 229 main event, which pitted former UFC lightweight and featherweight champ Conor McGregor against undefeated lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, was a mammoth financial success — the most lucrative pay-per-view in UFC history to be exact. If you ask UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley, however, the fight itself wasn’t all that good.
“It wasn’t that great a fight,” Woodley said at a Monday media lunch in Las Vegas, ahead of his UFC 235 title fight with Kamaru Usman (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I don’t care what anybody else said. They both kind of looked bad. They both looked like old men at the nursing home fighting each other. But then we glorified this fight. It wasn’t like this great strategic fight where one person was strategic.”
Woodley continued, and ultimately ended up giving McGregor a bit of props for turning himself into the biggest star in MMA — even if he’s not the sport’s best fighter.
“This is a person that, I don’t give stats, he’s lost a few times and won a few times,” Woodley said. “But look at his mystique he has. So it’s telling you it’s not so much about winning. It’s about the showmanship. It’s about what you bring to the table. It’s about making people give a f*ck. You gotta find a way to do both. You gotta find a way to do both of it. You’ve got to find a way to make people invested, want to see me lose, want to see me win.”
While Conor McGregor has experienced some losses of late, Tyron Woodley has looked nearly unstoppable. Yet the welterweight champ understands that victories are not the only prerequisite for stardom in MMA. In his eyes, fighters like McGregor and several others have shown this.
“If you go out there and you punch and you bleed and you brawl and you go back and forth, you really can’t lose in that situation,” Woodley said. “You can get your ass whupped and knocked out, but if you fought to a point where everyone was like ‘oh my god, he’s so tough,’ not only with the fighters and the fans but the promotion, you’ve kind of almost put yourself in the mold where they’re going to keep you.
“We saw with [Keith] Jardine, we saw with so many fighters forever that had, subpar, .500 records that stayed around that, then you have a guy who lose maybe one fight and they’re gone,” Woodley said. “And I just think that, when you look at a sport? Think about basketball. It don’t matter if you wear a pimped out custom suit, talk the most sh*t as possible, if you can shoot a three, you can shoot a three. How many times you seen Steph Curry talking crap? You get paid the big bucks based on how you deliver out on the court.”
What do you think of these comments of Tyron Woodley?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/26/2019.