Tyron Woodley willing to vacate UFC belt for GSP, but 'open to any fight' that makes sense

4 December 2017

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

DETROIT – Tyron Woodley has come to terms with the fact he might never fight Georges St-Pierre. But for what it’s worth, Woodley would make some sacrifices to make it happen.

Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC), the reigning UFC welterweight champion, has made no secret of his desire to meet newly crowned middleweight champ St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC), who recently came back from retirement to earn his second UFC belt. But right after his victorious return, doubt was once again cast in regard to the future of St-Pierre – who, according to UFC boss Dana White, is “out for a minute” due to dealings with colitis.

Woodley, who had his hopes of a Dec. 30 UFC 219 matchup with Nate Diaz recently squashed, isn’t holding his breath for a meeting with St-Pierre either. He did, however, contemplate leaving his belt behind for it.

“If I went up to 185 – before Georges started having whatever the condition he had, I considered making a move up to 185 and fighting at that weight class,” Woodley said, when answering a question about a possible return of friend and now-retired ONE Championship titleholder Ben Askren. “(I’d give) up my belt at welterweight and fight him for the middleweight title and stay at middleweight.”

Jumping up a division, though, apparently wouldn’t be that big of a sacrifice for Woodley, who said he was sitting at 205 pounds when he talked to the media backstage at UFC 218 and doesn’t exactly have an easy weight cut in the class he currently rules.

“I’m not going up to middleweight because I think that would boost me on the pound-for-pound (rankings),” Woodley said. “I want to fight Georges, and he’s not fighting in my weight. So I’ll come up and see you there. And I do think there are some guys I can compete with in the middleweight division. I’m going to be so much faster. I don’t think I’m giving up that much power in the punching.

“Guys like (ex-champ) Chris Weidman, (Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza), (ex-champ) Luke Rockhold – brothers have got some size on me. I have to be real creative. But in reality I think I’m a competitor and I will find a way to do what I need to do.”

As for St-Pierre’s “whatever condition”? Woodley won’t go so far as to doubt his peer’s ailments. But he does think St-Pierre wouldn’t be wrong in trying to dodge his contractual obligation to fight interim champion Robert Whittaker – a hungry opponent who would offer little financial or career incentives to a man who’s accomplished so much already.

“What is colitis?” Woodley asked. “Exactly. I don’t have questions what it means. And I’m not saying he doesn’t have the condition that he has. But was he even scheduled to fight? I think it’s a method in which he’s going to buy some extra time. …

“I think he’s smart, and I think he doesn’t have to take that risk, once again. He’s already done what he needs to do. And I really don’t think he wants to reign over a division and defend the title – all these guys coming back-to-back-to-back. He wants fights that are important to him and I don’t blame him.”

In fact, while that’s the fight Woodley has “always wanted,” the current 170-pound champ can’t really fault “the greatest welterweight of all time” for not wanting to go up against him, either.

“Does Georges need to fight me? No,” Woodley said. “He’s done what he needed to do. He’s been through the specialists, he’s been through the freestyle fighters, and he’s been through the fighters that are the wrestlers with heavy hands. He’s done it.

“He’s coming back in the sport because he built the blueprint for the pay-per-view. We’ve sort of seen it take off, the sport started really catching fire. Now he wants to come back and participate in some of those points. He doesn’t have nothing to prove. And I’m not the guy he’ll want to fight right now.”

Ultimately, Woodley has come to terms with the fact that St-Pierre might just not be in the cards from him. And he’s ready to move on from it. But if it isn’t Diaz or St-Pierre next, who is it?

Well, UFC President Dana White says it’s the winner of UFC on FOX 26’s headliner between former champions Rafael dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler. But as much as Woodley is fine with fighting either man, he’s not committing to that either.

“I’m open to any fight – anything that makes sense for me,” Woodley said. “But right now, I’m not putting myself on a box and saying, ‘These are my next guys.’ Who else is doing that? What other division beside my division is forced to actually compete against the No. 1 contender?

“That’s forced to say you have to fight this guy? Nobody else is in that position. With that said, I’m just keeping my options open.”

In fact, not even Woodley’s ideal timeline for a return is clear right now. While the welterweight currently has a shoulder procedure scheduled for Dec. 19, which could keep him on the shelf for at least three to four months, he’s reconsidering that idea too.

“I’ve just been praying over it and giving it some thought and, man, I really don’t feel like I need to do it,” Woodley said. “Me and (coach Duke Roufus) were in there hitting pads, working on technique and stuff yesterday. I feel like a beast. I’m going to pray over it, we’ll see in the next week or so.”

To hear Woodley’s full scrum, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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