Tyron Woodley received a lot of flack from UFC President Dana White for his underwhelming performance against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174 this past month.
“The Chosen One” was granted the co-main event spot of the pay-per-view with a chance to break through and become one of the top title contenders in the welterweight division.
Unfortunately, the fight didn’t go his way and MacDonald cruised to a unanimous decision win. It wasn’t the most exciting bout and was relatively one-sided all the way through. That sparked the ire of White, who heavily criticized Woodley for his performance, saying he doesn’t show up when it means the most.
“He choked in the big fight tonight,” White told FOX Sports following the event. “He got beat mentally. He got beat physically. Tyron’s got a ways to go. He seems like he chokes in the big fights.”
Those are harsh words from someone who holds a significant amount of power over Woodley’s (13-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) career. Luckily for the 32-year-old, White didn’t hold a grudge, and when an opportunity to fight Dong Hyun Kim (19-2-1 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 48 popped up on short notice, Woodley couldn’t help but accept.
“Everyone who knows me and knows what I’m capable of knows that I didn’t perform in my last outing,” Woodley said. “(Fighting Kim) gives me a chance to go out there and redeem myself against another top-10 welterweight. Going into someone else’s backyard again, I mean I know it’s ways from Korea, but it’s still closer than me. I plan on just going out there and having fun.”
The label of “choker” is not one any fighter wants attached to their name. However, for some reason, White felt that was the accurate description of Woodley’s performance against MacDonald. The American feels that term is not a justifiably description of his character, especially when looking back at his past fights.
“I don’t think that’s accurate to say I choke in every big fight, because I’ve been in some big fights,” Woodley said. “I think I didn’t choke in the Carlos Condit fight and that was the biggest fight of my life. Carlos is a little more dangerous than Rory. He’s probably one of the most dangerous and that was a big fight.
“I don’t think that’s accurate to say, but in that particular fight I was frozen. It was set up to be a better fight stylistically wise. I kind of let myself down and my training partners and coaches down. It’s more important to do what I’m capable of for myself and for my family.”
Woodley is typically an extremely dangerous fighter who can dominate on the ground with his wrestling or score a one-shot knockout on the feet. Against MacDonald, though, his offense was essentially muted and he was backed into a defensive shell for the entirety of the three-round affair.
It was an uncharacteristic showing from Woodley, but one he also refuses to make excuses for. He knows how it feels to be discredited of an important victory, and he wouldn’t want to do that to MacDonald.
“When I fought Carlos, his injury kind of diminished the moment for me,” Woodley said. “I don’t want to do that for Rory and make all these excuses like I wasn’t 100 percent or I had the flue or there was a death in my family or something like that. He came out and he had a game plan.”
While Woodley is disappointed he missed out on the chance to register a high-profile win, he has taken the fight with MacDonald as a learning lesson as he prepares for his August showdown with Kim in Macau.
Being a UFC fighter isn’t easy, and whether it’s a personal, physical or mental issue, there are countless factors that can go wrong and prevent an athlete from showing his best on a given day. Woodley now knows he must do whatever is necessary to overcome such hurdles if he hopes to fulfill his goal of become world champion.
“For me it’s just knowing against high-level performers you have to be on,” Woodley said. “Your light switch has to turn on no matter what you feel like, and I feel like this is my chance to go out there and redeem. We’ve seen the killer Tyron Woodley – we’ve seen the guy have some closer fights. I think it’s time to consistently see the same fighter.”
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