Tyron Woodley is always looking for big fights.
The reigning welterweight champion is no fool when it comes to the politics that go into matchmaking at this level of the sport, especially when talking about championship bouts.
In the Conor McGregor era where the Irishman has basically called his shot time and time again — while racking up gaudy amounts of money and two UFC title belts along the way — everybody has started to play that same game.
Henry Cejudo’s flyweight title was barely wrapped around his waist and he was calling out bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. Daniel Cormier was just seconds removed from knocking out Stipe Miocic and he was already involved in a physical altercation with former champion and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar.
Of course for some reason Woodley took a mountain of criticism when he started calling out fighters like Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz after winning the title back in 2016. Woodley even offered to move up to middleweight not that long ago to give Michael Bisping a challenge if the UFC was looking for champion versus champion fights.
That said as much as Woodley would still jump at the chance for the kind of fights that could not only add to his legacy but probably tack on a few more zeroes to his bank account, he’s not thinking about any of that ahead of UFC 228.
As he prepares to face Darren Till — a middleweight masquerading as a welterweight — Woodley isn’t thinking about becoming a ‘champ-champ’ like McGregor or calling for money fights. He’s only focused on retaining his welterweight title and then he can think about what might come next.
“I’ve got a super fight coming up Sept. 8,” Woodley said ahead of UFC 228. “I’m focusing on that and giving your opponent the proper respect is the only way you can open up any other doors. So thinking too far down the road and it will be somebody else wearing your belt.
“My focus right now is fighting Darren Till, going out there and putting on a great performance. A fighter that’s worthy of my attention, bringing true skills to the table. I think that should be my focus. We’ll talk about any other type of fights after this fight is over with.”
Ever since becoming champion, Woodley has said time and time again that he wants to go down as the greatest welterweight of all time.
Reaching that status was a big part of the reason why Woodley has been calling for a fight against St-Pierre — the longest reigning welterweight champion in UFC history — for so many years. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear St-Pierre has any interest in returning to 170 pounds so that leaves Woodley to figure out other options to take that status away from him.
The biggest accomplishment would probably be surpassing St-Pierre’s nine title defenses at welterweight.
Woodley is currently looking for his fourth defense on Saturday night but even that isn’t drawing away from the attention that’s being paid to Till.
He might sound like a broken record, but Woodley isn’t thinking about Sunday much less breaking St-Pierre’s title defense record until he notches a win over Till at UFC 228.
“I try not to focus on a title run and how many defenses and breaking records,” Woodley said. “I just try to focus on each fight. This is my super fight. This is the biggest fight of my career. I’m in great shape. I’ve had a great training camp. I feel like all the pieces to the pie, that we’ve addressed those issues that we’ve seen in film and that’s my goal.
“To go out there and have a great performance.”