Tyron Woodley isn’t above admitting mistakes he’s made in the past.
While he’s on top of the world now as the undisputed welterweight champion, Woodley could have potentially been in this position even sooner if not for a lopsided loss to Rory MacDonald back in 2014.
On that fateful night, Woodley was riding a two-fight win streak, including victories over former interim champion Carlos Condit and former title contender Josh Koscheck. A win over MacDonald didn’t guarantee him a shot at the gold, but it definitely would have put him in a very advantageous position in the welterweight division.
Unfortunately, Woodley came up short that night after arguably his strangest night at the office as he just couldn’t find his timing or rhythm while spending the majority of the fight backing up while MacDonald stayed on the attack for three rounds.
Looking back now, Woodley remembers how all the questions leading into that fight were about what comes next rather than what was right in front of him and he’s willing to admit he got distracted.
That’s why Woodley isn’t even going to address the return of former champion Georges St-Pierre or his new fight against Michael Bisping until after he’s finished with work on Saturday night in his rematch with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Experience taught Woodley a valuable lesson and he’s not looking to make that mistake a second time.
“Don’t ask me about GSP. Nobody ask me about GSP and [Michael] Bisping. That [expletive] happened to me when I was fighting Rory [MacDonald] the first time,” Woodley explained on Wednesday in Las Vegas. “Talking about Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler, my focus left that fight and I didn’t show up to work that week.
“So if you ask me that question, I apologize but I will not answer. ‘Wonderboy’ is a tough opponent, he deserves my respect and he deserves my attention. That’s the fight I signed for, that’s the fight I’m doing this weekend, so unfortunately, I will not answer any questions on GSP and Michael Bisping.”
The wisdom yielded from past experiences show just how much Woodley has grown since that night in Vancouver three years ago when he suffered the last loss of his career.
Since that time, Woodley has become a total package in the Octagon with a series of impressive wins over Robbie Lawler, Kelvin Gastelum and Dong Hyun Kim. Woodley fought to a draw with Thompson the last time out, although he still believes deep down inside he should have gotten a win at UFC 205 this past November.
Despite nearly finishing Thompson on at least two different occasions in the fourth round not to mention a blistering opening round where Woodley dominated the action on the mat, the end result was still a draw.
There’s no doubt that Woodley did more damage in the fight yet somehow he will still walk into UFC 209 as an underdog for the second time in a row as he steps into the Octagon for a fight with Thompson.
While that may bother some fighters, Woodley doesn’t seem to care because for some reason he’s been the underdog in many of his most recent fights, which have arguably been the strongest performances of his entire career. So Woodley will concede to Thompson being the favorite on the betting lines because none of that really matters once they start throwing hands on Saturday night.
“Being the underdog doesn’t change anything. You’ve still got to go out there and fight. I’ve been the underdog. I don’t remember the last time I was the favorite,” Woodley said.
“I didn’t really get into this sport for people to worship me, for people to bow at my feet. I got into this sport to be the best in the world. Right now, I’m one of the best. When I retire from fighting, I want to be pound-for-pound the greatest welterweight that’s ever fought in the Octagon. My goal is to keep knocking off guys one by one to get to that point.”
A win on Saturday night would certainly put Woodley one step closer to that goal and then once he puts “Wonderboy” behind him, then he’ll have plenty of time to answer questions about Georges St-Pierre, Demian Maia or any other contender standing in his way.