Tyron Woodley. The UFC welterweight champion. The man looking for a big payday. And why the hell not? That’s the point of prize fighting in the first place isn’t it? To throw your bones at another human being and get paid loads of cash. At least that’s how things would be in a perfect world. Instead, fighters are competing against each other for a disporportionate amount of money compared to what they bring in. Tyron Woodley wants his big payday and he’s looking to get it through battling against fellow champion Michael Bisping. The problem with that is Woodley once again has the worst timing.
At UFC 205, Woodley faced off with a little known fighter named Stephen Thompson. They battled it out back and forth until the final bell. The bout was ruled a draw leaving both the fighters and fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. But rather than campaigning to battle it out with Stephen Thompson for the second time and settle the score, Woodley is trying to ignore the fact that he fought to a majority draw a couple months ago and challenge Michael Bisping for the middleweight title.
Yes, prize fighting is about getting paid. But with fighting to a draw in your last match it’s going to be hard to imagine who wouldn’t want to see Stephen Thompson and Tyron Woodley battle it out for a second time. UFC 205 gave both fighters tremendous exposure, so much so that they can certainly carry a pay-per-view and generate big numbers in the process. But since Conor McGregor got his crack at the featherweight and lightweight titles it seems that everyone is jumping on the multiple title bandwagon. Even newly minted bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt is trying to call out champions in other divisions.
What Woodley, Garbrandt, and any other champion of their ilk need to understand is that while campaigning for super fights may line their pockets as well as those of the company, it’s a huge risk for the UFC. If one of their champions is defeated then they risk being diminished in some way. It’s certainly exciting to see, but the risk of Woodley getting dominated or Garbrandt getting knocked out would tarnish both the brand of the fighters as well as the brand of the promotion. It’s an easier sell to have Woodlehy rematch Thompson in the near future rather than hold up both divisions. Conor McGregor already made things complicated at featherweight and it’s unlikely that the top brass wants to see that happen again in the welterweight and middleweight divisions.
Think about it. It’s hard for people to look at Jose Aldo as the undisputed featherweight champion when he was brained by McGregor just a couple of fights ago. It diminished his brand somewhat, but certainly not enough to destroy his legacy. Nevertheless, the same could happen if Woodley faces Bisping. Rather than damage the stock of one of their champions it’s more likely that the UFC will choose to try and turn both men into superstars.
With all due respect to Woodley, he should look to set himself up as the definitive champion in his division and the big pay days will come about. He surely gained popularity with his draw against Stephen Thompson, but fighting to a draw doesn’t a dominant champion make. Instead of challenging fighters in other weight divisions, Woodley should be chomping at the bit to prove to the world that he’s the best welterweight in the world. Like it or not, the fans want clarity, the UFC wants clarity, and frankly, Woodley and Thompson need clarity before anyone starts talking about super fights.
What’s your thoughts on a potential Woodley versus Bisping showdown?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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