St. Louisan Woodley has been hustling to get ready for UFC 174
JUN 10, 2014 11:53a ET
ST. LOUIS -- It has been less than three full months since Tyron Woodley defeated Carlos Condit at UFC 171, so this week feels a bit different for him as he prepares to fight again Saturday.
"It came so fast. That's kind of what I'm thinking. It doesn't even feel like fight week," Woodley tells FOXSportsMidwest.com. "I'm at a great sense of peace and I've felt this peace a couple different fights where I knew the work was done, I knew it was time to fight and everything is out of my hands at this point. I just believe in God that He brought me this far to take me all the way through. I'm in shape, I'm strong, I'm healthy, and mentally I'm just prepared to go out there and win this fight."
The St. Louis welterweight's final preparations in his hometown included meeting with media on Monday at his gym, ATT Evolution in Rock Hill, followed by a workout and a massage, trying to get the body and mind right as the clock ticks down to his next fight.
Tuesday morning he was on a plane bound for Vancouver, British Columbia.
There the 32-year-old will find arguably the biggest fight of his career at UFC 174 against No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald, a 24-year-old Canadian with a 16-2 record who is coming off a unanimous decision over Demian Maia at UFC 170 on Feb. 22.
Woodley, who is 13-2 in his career and ranks No. 3 among UFC welterweights, defeated Condit with a second-round TKO on March 15 and just a few weeks later agreed to the MacDonald bout after signing a new contract with UFC.
The McCluer High School grad and former All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri had four months between his first-round knockout against Josh Koscheck at UFC 167 in mid-November and then his win over Condit. So he's getting back into action sooner than usual.
"This is less than normal," Woodley says. "I jumped in a camp pretty quickly. One, because they were going to Vancouver, Canada. They had already announced the bout. Obviously, they wanted to get this kid, Rory MacDonald, on the card, because he's from Vancouver. Johny Hendricks was hurt and they wanted to get this welterweight division figured out. So I had to jump into camp pretty quickly."
He traveled to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to work with his boxing coach, Eric Brown, and spar against professional boxers.
"That way I have basically a high level of boxing right at my disposal and really get a chance to work with guys that only do boxing," Woodley says. "Because this kid (MacDonald) is more known for throwing his jab, having timing. I put myself in position with guys that are better boxers than he."
Then Woodley returned to St. Louis, where he was joined by more training partners from throughout the country.
"I brought some guys from Florida, one of my guys from L.A., and I brought American Top Team headquarters to me," he says. "The partners I would have been sparring with and training with in Florida, I just had those guys come here. I'm closer to home. I can enjoy seeing my kids. I've got a lot of support here in St. Louis."
It's that support system -- including his wife and three sons -- that is part of what motivates Woodley. So is his rise from humble beginnings. One of 13 children raised by his mother, "The Chosen One" turned himself into a state champion wrestler as a senior at McCluer, where he went 48-0, and later a Big 12 champion at Mizzou.
When it comes to specific fights, the motivation varies.
"Sometimes the world title is the motivation," he says. "Sometimes the opponent. Sometimes the task at hand of what he brings. When I fought Carlos Condit, he has so many weapons that motivated me to train so hard. When you build up for a big moment like that and you train so hard and you finally win that fight, you kind of want to relax and are like, 'I did it. I got it through.' And have a month or so to kind of settle in and then get back into some training."
Woodley's motivation for Saturday's fight on pay-per-view, with less time to prepare than usual, was a little different.
"Actually, I'm at the point in my career where I'm still getting better," he says. "So I would like a period of not just not training and eating crazy food and falling out of shape; I want a period of time where I'm actually continuing to get better on the ground, get better striking, get better at wrestling. I think this time I just had to jump back in camp and get really specific on prepping for him."
On Saturday at UFC 174, Woodley will find out if that work paid off.