A smart fighter who can execute a brilliant game plan, or a boring fighter who takes no chances? Which is he? This is the question being asked in the wake of Tyron Woodley’s most recent title defense against Demian Maia at UFC 214 on July 29.
Yes, Woodley successfully defended his welterweight title for a third straight time on Saturday night. However, in doing so he was booed out of the Octagon. It was a lackluster performance, to say the least. UFC President Dana White would go so far as to say, “You ask fans if they want to see Woodley fight again. I think that would be a flat-out no. Who wants to see him fight again?”
Clearly, from a promoter’s standpoint, Woodley didn’t do himself any favors with his uninspired, conservative effort against Maia. However, there are many ways you can view “The Chosen One’s” most recent performance.
The casual fan doesn’t want to see a highly strategic fight. The classic striker-vs.-grappler affair rarely does anything for them. They want to see high energy and guys going toe-to-toe until one man gets knocked out.
Now I’m not making the argument that Woodley and Maia was a highly strategic encounter, but there was much more strategy and game-plan execution going on than the casual fan could recognize. Does this mean the fight was enjoyable to watch even to the die-hard fan? Absolutely not!
Die-hard fans are going to watch almost all the MMA available to them, and these fans have a higher MMA IQ when observing fights. Woodley showed tremendous takedown defense that can be appreciated, but that was all he showed.
There is a reason why guys like Robbie Lawler and Nate Diaz are fan-favorites. You know exactly what you’re getting with these guys. They bring it every time they step foot inside the Octagon. Even when Lawler was the champion, he went out on his sword.
Woodley has said time and time again that he thinks he is the best fighter in the world. He feels that when it’s all said and done, he will be the greatest welterweight of all time. This may be true, but Woodley is fighting not to lose, instead of fighting to win. No fighter is going to go down as the best ever while fighting in that manner.
The welterweight champ has had a tumultuous relationship with Dana White. Both men have criticized each other in public, only to make up later. So, it came as no surprise when Woodley fired back at White on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
“He owes me a public apology,” Woodley said. “If I don’t get an apology, I’ll start leaking some shit that people don’t want to be out in the wind.”
Clearly, both parties have a right to be upset.
No matter how you view Woodley’s performance at UFC 214, he is still the reigning, defending welterweight champion. Whether his next title defense is on a pay-per-view main card or on Fox, it’s going to take a truly special effort to end the run of “The Chosen One.”
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