(This story first appeared in Tuesday’s USA TODAY.)
UFC welterweight Tyron Woodley is a persistent guy when he wants something.
Now that there’s a new champion, he has decided what that is: the next title shot.
Woodley once blew up UFC President Dana White’s phone with text messages asking to fight Carlos Condit, and after initially getting turned down, he made good on the request by winning a TKO against onetime title challenger Condit (29-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) at UFC 171.
Although the win came as the result of a knee injury Condit suffered midfight, Woodley (13-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) told MMAjunkie Radio on Monday that it takes nothing away from his worthiness. He said he should be new champion Johny Hendricks‘ first title defense and offered a name-by-name breakdown of why other contenders aren’t worthy.
Aside from Woodley, four other welterweights are in the mix for the No.1 contender: Rory MacDonald, Hector Lombard, Matt Brown and Dong Hyun Kim.
Another, semiretired former champ Georges St-Pierre, might get first dibs if he decides to return (Monday, Hendricks said his first choice is St-Pierre). Then there’s the all-the-way retired Nick Diaz, who has hinted at a comeback. Diaz’s popularity threatens to trump the logic of giving him a title shot despite back-to-back losses.
Post-UFC 171, UFC officials said they’ll decide who’s next in the coming weeks. In the meantime, White might want to turn off his cellphone. Woodley, who has won his last three bouts in the octagon, is ready to make his case. Some of his thoughts:
MacDonald: “(He) was the gatekeeper for so long, and he had an opportunity then. Now that your teammate (St-Pierre) is gone, that doesn’t give you an automatic bid in. He’s on a one-fight win streak, and his last appearances, he hasn’t looked very amazing.”
Brown: “(He’s) fought Jordan Mein, and he’s fighting Erick Silva, who’s also not in the top 10. Had he fought and beat Condit (a recently planned bout between them was scrapped), his case would be great. He’s got six wins, but it’s not (all) over top-10 guys.”
Kim: “I think he showed a lot of heart when he came back against Erick Silva, who was beating him convincingly. I think he’s in the top 10 in the world. But on pure ticket sales, pay-per-view and marketability, I think we need a global champ. I think we need someone who’s well spoken and looks the part, plays the part, fights the part, and lives the part.”
Diaz: “He hasn’t beaten anyone since 2011. I don’t think he can beat Hendricks. When is the last time Nick Diaz actually beat a wrestler? I think he’s looking to get in quick, make a fast payday.”
St-Pierre: “I think he’s the champ. I think if he comes back, Johny wants the rematch. At that point, I’ll step down and I’ll say he deserves the shot.”
For complete coverage of UFC 171, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.