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06th Jan 2017

Tyron Woodley gives refreshingly honest explanation for his least popular move as UFC champion

People had a real problem with this

Ben Kiely

It really is remarkable that UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley isn’t one of the more popular fighters on the roster.

Woodley really has all the necessary ingredients to be one of the biggest stars in the promotion. His excellent work as a UFC analyst shows how intelligent he is and his incredible highlight-reel proves that he is one of the most exciting fighters at 170 lbs.

This often gets forgotten, but when Kelvin Gastelum missed weight at UFC 183, Woodley handed him back the portion of the purse he was forced to forfeit to him because he sympathised with him and he felt like it was just taking his money.

So he’s fairly sound too.

However, fans have had a real problem with ‘T-Wood’ ever since he was awarded a title shot against Robbie Lawler a year and a half after his last trip to the Octagon, which was the split decision win over Gastelum.

(Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

This only materialised because his title eliminator against Johny Hendricks at UFC 192 fell through after ‘Bigg Rigg’ pulled out due to weight cutting issues. Dana White promised Woodley a title shot as compensation and after a bit of waiting, he finally got it at UFC 201 and seized the opportunity with both hands, knocking out ‘Ruthless’ inside one round to claim the belt.

Once he became champion, Woodley made getting paid his goal and immediately began looking for money fights. He called out the likes of Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre, which royally pissed off number-one contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

To Woodley’s credit, ‘Wonderboy’ had been saying how much he’d like to fight Lawler in the build-up to 201, which prompted ‘The Chosen One’ to say he would allow him to get that match-up next if he won the belt.

Thompson kicked up enough of a stink to get his crack at the belt at UFC 205 and the pair slugged it out in a five-round war for the ages which went down as a majority draw and meant that Woodley still held the belt.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

A draw would normally warrant an automatic rematch, but Woodley has been campaigning for money fights yet again, with prize fights against Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping also on his radar.

Everyone knows why Woodley is calling out these big names, he simply wants to get paid and guys such as Nick Diaz move the needle. He straight out told that he called out the Stockton native because he draws more eyes than him.

“This is the honest truth man. I can sit here an act like I am Bruce Almighty but Nick Diaz is a bigger draw than me. He is a bigger name than me.”

“Me fighting him and me wanting to fight Nick is because I recognise and realise that I am the world champion but Nick Diaz is a legend. He has had to fight the guys like Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Frank Shamrock. He has had to have wars with Georges and BJ Penn to get his name to where it is.”

Woodley added another reason for wanting more high-profile scalps on his record – to solidify his legacy as one of the greats. While taking out top contenders is fine and all, he believes that in order to become a legend, a champion has to beat a few of them first.

“So all I am trying to do is fight the Robbie Lawlers, fight the Nick Diazs , GSPs and Conor McGregors so that I can become a name that enters in to the legend category. Then people will want to fight me for the same reason I want to fight Nick. That’s all it is. There is nothing personal. I respect him as a fighter.”

He’s not trying to sugar-coat it. He’s not trying to dupe anyone. He knows exactly what these call-outs are and he’s not ashamed to admit it.