Tyron Woodley will not be happy if an interim title fight is booked while he’s out with an apparent injury, and when he does return, he doesn’t want to be fighting Robbie Lawler next.
Tyron Woodley might be out of action for a while, but the UFC welterweight champion doesn’t think the organization should crown yet another interim champ.
Earlier this week, just days after his unanimous decision win over Demian Maia in the UFC 214 co-main event last Saturday, Woodley revealed he tore his labrum in the first round. He isn’t sure what the severity of the injury is nor what his timetable for return is, but worst-case scenario, he’s sidelined until 2018.
Despite that, Woodley objects to the idea of bringing in an interim welterweight titleholder while the Ferguson, Mo., native is recovering, because he’s been the UFC’s most active champ since he won the belt at UFC 201 in July 2016. Woodley has now defended the title three times since his title win over Robbie Lawler — twice against Stephen Thompson and once against Maia.
“I’m going to get a second or third opinion on this shoulder, see what I need to do to get back as fast as I can,” Woodley told The MMA Hour on Monday (transcription via MMA Fighting). “And if anybody says, utters, mumbles, accidentally says the word ‘interim,’ I’m going to lose my sh-t. Because I fought four world title fights in 12 months, and I was prepared to fight five in 18 months coming out in November. So, I dare somebody to say anything about a goddang interim title. I will lose my top, because I’ve seen athletes injured for years, months, never defended — how many belts has Conor McGregor defended?
“Let’s keep everything consistent, people. Let’s keep everything equal, let’s keep everything the same. Don’t mention an interim title. I am so going to flip a screw.”
UFC president Dana White was prepared to book Woodley, if he beat Maia, against former champ Georges St-Pierre. But Woodley’s uninspiring performance in Anaheim changed White’s mind.
So instead, White returned to the original plan of middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping vs. St-Pierre. But now, there isn’t a clear next opponent for Woodley. Lawler, who defeated Donald Cerrone on the UFC 214 main card, makes the most sense, but because Woodley beat “Ruthless” just over a year ago — and since then, Lawler has only fought once — Woodley is not interested.
“Why do I fight Lawler? What has he done in this last year besides crawl up in a ball and hide?” Woodley asked. “That’s what Ronda Rousey did. He didn’t do that when he knocked out everybody else. I didn’t do that when I got knocked out. I came back, I shook myself else off, I got myself back up.
“I just don’t feel like someone that’s taken a year off, as much as I know Dana loves Robbie and the fans love Robbie — I love Robbie, Robbie’s a dope fighter, we were friends before that fight, I feel bad that we haven’t really communicated that much since then — but I just don’t feel as if a fighter who I knocked out in 46 seconds takes a year off, (then) comes back and wins a fight kinda close, and jumps right back into the title picture. So, there’s no clear contenders right now.”