Tyron Woodley is one of the most controversial Champions the UFC Welterweight division has ever had, and not in an exciting way.
Ever since his anticlimactic rematch with Stephen Thompson back at UFC 209, Woodley has been labelled as a boring fighter by the MMA world. He was even stripped of a huge money fight with Georges St. Pierre by Dana White after another snooze fest of a fight with Damian Maia at UFC 214, which only saw 68 strikes landed in five full rounds.
Dana White himself is known to be a particularly angry man after Woodley’s title fights and even went on to claim that fans wouldn’t want to watch another title fight featuring T-Wood again after UFC 214. Along with chants of “This is boring” from crowds at fights and rants by fans on social media, its fair to say that Woodley isn’t very popular, or rather his style of fighting isn’t.
Some fans were further annoyed by T-Wood as he dismissed the suggestion of a ‘back up’ fight at UFC 228, after it was rumoured that Kamaru Usman was waiting on standby to step in for Darren Till, if he had missed weight. In the world of MMA, fans expect every fighter to have a fight anywhere, anytime attitude, so some were upset to hear that he would not accept a ‘back up’ fight.
Fans were expecting Woodley’s reign at the top to end this past weekend at UFC 228 with Darren Till hoping to become the second English champion in UFC history. Till had amassed a huge amount of hype following his demolition of Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson, so much so that he even came out as the betting favourite despite his lack of champion experience.
However, Woodley came out again on top. He quashed the hype train and silenced Till with his power and ground game as he went on to win by submission in the second round. There seems to be a lack of angry rants this time though, with people praising Woodley’s complete dominance over the Liverpool born fighter. It seems as though fans have finally calmed down, realizing that T-Wood is not a boring fighter, he’s a calculated one, and he’s one of the best around.
Tyron Woodley has been claiming he’s one of the best, ever since he knocked out the former champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 to claim his first UFC gold. His further claim that he’s one of the best Welterweights in UFC history was often taken as overconfidence and lead to further ridicule from fans. However, with his sheer dominance over Till, we can now look back at Woodley’s past fights and realize that he’s actually horrifically efficient with his game plans.
Take the Maia fight for example. Yes, the fight had the fewest strikes thrown in UFC championship fight history, but if you saw that Woodley defended 24 takedowns, you realize that he didn’t need to push the pace and go for the stoppage. He knows that Maia is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, and his only chance of beating Woodley would be on the ground.
Take down defence was clearly the name of the game when preparing for the fight, and Woodley made Maia look foolish with his constant failure at taking him down. He was just too good for the Brazilian on the night. It is also worth noting that Woodley is known for his wrestling abilities but with this fight, he never shot for a single takedown, knowing that its where Maia would feel most comfortable.
Again with the Thompson fight, Woodley realized that his opponents greatest attribute is his karate style counter striking. So he then focused on not overextending and took his time to pick out shots, rather than pushing the pace. His patience paid off as he had to wait until the last round to land a massive shot that dropped Thompson, which was enough to sway the judges in his favour for the decision.
Then we come to last weekends fight against Till. He knew that Till would feel most comfortable in a striking brawl between the two. However, Woodley didn’t give him the brawl he wanted, instead opting to use his grappling skills to pin Till down to quickly submit him in the second round.
Woodley isn’t having boring fights for the sake of it, he’s just being efficient. If you look back at all the fights he has that get branded boring, you notice that the fights have just gone exactly how he wanted them to go, minimal damage taken and an overall dominance over the opponent.
I was one of the Woodley haters after the Maia fight, which even led me to extremely dislike him as a fighter. However, after the Till fight, I have completely changed my stance. I now realize now that Tyron Woodley is one the best fighters around at the moment, even to the point where I’m considering placing him in my personal top 10 GOATS.