Tyron Woodley has talked a lot about title shots recently but seems on a mission to make sure he never gets one. Coming off of an impressive first round finish of Dong Hyun Kim, he moved up into the number three spot in the rankings behind only Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald. In theory, this would put him poised to fight for the title in early 2015. Instead, he is moving further away from one instead of closer to it. In this instance it is a case of his actions outside of the octagon undoing all of the good he does in it.
After the win over Kim, the UFC offered Woodley a fight with Hector Lombard. This is a fight many fans have wanted to see since they both won at UFC 171. Woodley turned the fight down citing “no scrap without the strap,” an unofficial ATT rule about fighting teammates. He asked for Matt Brown instead. This was similar to back in March right after UFC 171 when he shot down any talk of them fighting. In March the talked died down quickly and Woodley was offered the Kim fight instead.
This time Lombard is not going quietly and along with Dana White has instead put his teammate on blast. Lombard, according to Dana, contacted him when he heard that Woodley turned down the fight. He asked Dana for this fight saying he wants it badly. When Dana went back to Woodley with that information Woodley stilled turned the fight down. Lombard has even took to Twitter campaigning for the fight.
A fight that Woodley wants no part of anytime soon, if at all. Dana himself came out and said that Woodley wants nothing to do with Lombard. That means in Dana’s eyes Woodley will always have to wait behind Lombard for a title shot. Dana talks about this all of the time and uses Chuck Liddell as the example of champions and fighters he admires. Turning down fights does not put you in that category.
It is like Dana said about being the champ you are in theory the best in the world which means you can beat anybody and if you cannot beat the 50th ranked guy then guess what? You are not the champ. If you cannot beat the #6 ranked fighter then you are not going to be the #1 contender.
Sure, he can say that he is asking for the higher ranked guy, but the truth is he is turning down a fight against someone who is healthy and ready to fight to accept one that is not being offered against a hurt fighter. Brown is still waiting to start training due to a hand injury in his last fight. It is very clear that Woodley does not think that he can beat Lombard and looks a lot like Liddell and Tito Ortiz.
Liddell was always anxious to fight Ortiz, who used every excuse he could to avoid the fight. When they did finally fight it became clear why Ortiz did not want to fight Liddell as he got destroyed in both fights. Woodley apparently knows the same thing about Lombard. Until he fights and beats Lombard he will not get that title shot.
The ranking and recent win will not matter. For the UFC and Dana he is and will be the guy who is ducking Lombard. Right now if Lawler and MacDonald got hurt you can bet that Lombard would get the shot before Woodley. I think even Carlos Condit would get the shot before Woodley.
It is ironic that Woodley is taking himself further away from a title shot if that is really what he wants. He essentially choked in the fight with MacDonald and let the moment overwhelm him. His biggest win in the UFC was against Condit and ended when Condit hurt his knee.
It is always unfortunate when that happens in a fight. Injuries are a part of sports and have affected outcomes for years. We have seen it happen and generally there is a pattern for the winning fighter to talk about how unfortunate it is to win that way, and how no one wants to win that way. Woodley has been very defensive about the win and constantly wants credit for the win. It is something that is troubling to see – him concerned with what others think about that fight and the outcome. It is that quote, “a Wolf does not concern himself with the opinion of the sheep.”
Woodley seems very concerned with the opinions of everybody when it comes to that fight. He is quick to point out that he has already beaten Condit just in case somebody might suggest that they fight again. If he really wants the title shot anytime soon then the Lombard fight gets him there the quickest. The winner of that fight would put themselves right there behind Lawler and MacDonald. Sure, they may have one more fight to keep busy before a title shot but they would be in position.
Now, we have to see what fight they come up with but if Woodley thinks that turning this fight down helps him he has made a mistake. Fans are not drawn to fighters who seem to be afraid to fight somebody especially when they use the guise of friendship. Which it is clear that Lombard and Woodley are not friends even if they are teammates. A friend would not take to Twitter like Lombard did to call out Woodley. Lombard gets it. He knows that a win for either fighter gets them very close to the title if they fight each other.
These situations always remind me of why a fighter like Urijah Faber is popular. He does not duck fighters and has consistently taken on dangerous opponents even if fighting them does nothing for his brand. Faber gets it. He knows if you are the number one contender then you can beat everybody else and you do not keep that spot by ducking people. Like Ric Flair said, “If you want to be the man. You have got to beat the man.” It is simple for Woodley. If you want that title shot than you are going to have to beat Lombard at some point to get it. Lombard is ready. Why aren’t you?