In Damon Martin’s piece yesterday for FoxSports, Tyron Woodley doubles down on his recent campaign bid for a shot at the UFC 170 pound title saying, “Johny Hendricks is not a better wrestler than me. His credentials are longer than mine, but he’s not a better wrestler.”
Wrestlers touting their wrestling as a point of pride is nothing new, but The Chosen One seems as little too fixated on his wrestling, which stands in stark contrast to what he said just days before, “I put myself in a position where I made wrestling an option for me… I don’t have to wrestle. I don’t have to take another shot for the rest of my life if I don’t want to. I have good enough hands, good enough boxing, good enough timing to strike with anybody in our division.”
In addition to critiquing Hendricks’ wrestling acumen, he also uses wrestling as a measuring stick for why Nick Diaz doesn’t deserve a title shot. In Steven Marroco’s piece in USA Today, Woodley says of Diaz, “When is the last time Nick Diaz actually beat a wrestler?”
Whether or not The Chosen One identifies himself as a wrestler first or a fighter first is clearly his call. After all, it’s going to take more than a takedown to make headway in the welterweight division. However, Woodley has heavy hands and speed, too. It’s why fans look at Woodley’s devastating KOs of Josh Koshcheck and Jay Hieron as evidence why he should be at the front of the pack vying for a shot at Johny Hendricks. In fact, in Woodley’s case, he has the hands, he has the speed, he has the wrestling, and he even has the x-factor that could allow him to stand apart from the entire pack at 170.
However, as the frontrunner and favorite for any political office will tell you, in a knock-down-drag-out-mudslinging campaign, if you stand head-and-shoulders above the pack, don’t acknowledge anyone else in the race… if for no other reason, than you’re allowing them into the conversation. Later in the same Steven Marroco piece, Woodley discusses the rest of the 170-pound field, breaking down why each contender trails behind him in the bona fides needed to gain a title shot.
On Dong Hyun Kim, Woodley states: “I think he’s in the top 10 in the world. But on pure ticket sales, pay-per-view and marketability, I think we need a global champ. I think we need someone who’s well-spoken and looks the part, plays the part, fights the part, and lives the part.”
Ouch. I don’t know how well-spoken The Stun Gun is since I don’t speak Korean, and it seems to me that given the fact The Stun Gun is Korean, that should define “global champ.” In addition, in his last two fights, The Stun Gun has finished his opponents in violent fashion, exemplifying someone who “fights the part.” Also, to mention ticket sales and PPV as criteria for title shots is just begging for Nick Diaz to tout his own PPV numbers and how much people will pay to see a “villain” like Nick Diaz potentially lose.
Regarding Matt Brown, The Chosen One says: “He’s got six wins, but it’s not (all) over top-10 guys.”
While Matt Brown doesn’t have the feather-in-his-cap win over someone as highly ranked as Carlos Condit, of Matt Brown’s last six fights, five have ended via KO or TKO, and that should qualify as someone who Woodley says “fights the part”. Also, to bring up Matt Brown’s fight streak is to invite a comparison between Woodley and Brown over the last 6 fights. Woodley is 4-2; Matt Brown is 6-0. The one area in which they share a similar opponent, Jordan Mien, shows a stark difference: Matt Brown finished Mien by TKO; Tyron Woodley beat Mein via split decision. Surely that makes Matt Brown’s resume stand out as well.
Tyron Woodley is a difficult out for anyone in the UFC’s 170-pound class. He’s an intelligent guy. He’s a clever guy. He jumped in and signed on to fight Carlos Condit, knowing that a win over Condit would put his name in the title discussion. He’s in the top five in the world in his weight class. In his own words, Woodley is “someone who’s well-spoken and looks the part, plays the part, fights the part, and lives the part.” He’s someone who has earned a title shot.
However, as the UFC has shown in the past, putting together a formula for a title shot is tricky chemistry. It’s more than wins. It’s more than timing. It’s more than the quality of opponent. It’s more than ticket sales. It’s more than campaigning. Getting a title shot based simply upon merit is difficult enough. Getting a title shot by comparing yourself to the rest of the division can only make that road tougher, especially in a division as crowded as 170. To acknowledge the field campaigning against you is to invite the UFC brass to take a second glance at the entire field. To chase the spotlight is to risk illuminating others. For Tyron Woodley to continue to stand out, he should make his case for a welterweight shot absolutely, not comparatively.