UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley gets paid to fight.
He also gets paid to talk about other people fighting as an analyst for Fox Sports’ coverage of UFC events.
“It makes me look at the sport from a different lens,” Woodley said Saturday at UFC Gym in Farmingdale for their one-year anniversary event. “It helps me break down my opponent in a different way. I’m learning to look at fighters from a different perspective.”
But it’s talk of Woodley’s next fight and next opponent that mixed martial arts fans are most curious to hear.
“I haven’t heard back yet,” Woodley said. “My opponent, supposedly Demian Maia, he needs a break, and if he wants to take a break, he might get passed up. I might move on to bigger and better fights.
“You wanna fight for the title, you can’t pick and choose when it happens. You want it that bad, you gotta be ready to roll. You don’t get a break.”
Maia (25-6) has won seven straight fights in the 170-pound division, most recently beating Jorge Masvidal by split decision at UFC 211 on May 13. After that fight, UFC president Dana White said Maia would be next in line for a title shot. That was when Maia said he wanted to take a break.
Woodley (16-3-1) won the welterweight title from Robbie Lawler last July. He defended it twice against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, fighting first to a majority draw before a majority decision.
Woodley said he’s interested in being part of the UFC 214 card in Anaheim, California, on July 29 headlined by light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier against former champion Jon Jones.
Woodley is happy to defend his title next against Maia, but he also is eyeing what he calls “legacy fights.”
“Georges St-Pierre is the best welterweight who’s ever done it,” Woodley said. “I’m the champion now. If I beat him, I feel like I’m the best welterweight who’s ever fought in the UFC. Nick Diaz is a guy who’s been around for a very long time. I think he’s a lineal top-five welterweight, done a lot for the sport. Those fights, for my career, people start thinking of me in a different light if I have those notches on my belt.”
Middleweight champion Michael Bisping and lightweight champion Conor McGregor also were mentioned by Woodley as opponents he’d like to face.
It’s become common for every fighter to say they want to fight McGregor. He’s the sport’s top draw, and with that comes an increased payday. McGregor first won the featherweight title in December 2015, fought twice at welterweight after that, then won the lightweight title in November 2016, rewriting most of the commonly accepted rules of matchmaking and fairness among contenders in other divisions.
“There’s two sets of rules going on,” Woodley said. “There’s traditional, you get the belt, you fight anybody, the No. 1 contenders and it’s a true sport. Then you have the entertainment side where you see Conor McGregor go up a weight class here and there, jumping two different belts, Bisping fighting Georges. All these different things are happening and they make a lot of money, why wouldn’t you want to partake in that? For me, I’m open to fighting Demian Maia, who is the No. 1 contender. I’m also open to a superfight. I’m open to pretty much anything that builds my fighter profile.”