After suffering two losses in three fights -- the first and only defeats of his career -- decorated wrestler Tyron Woodley smashed Josh Koscheck by 1st-round KO and looked to amplify that momentum against another established contender in former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Despite an unusual and anti-climactic conclusion, that's exactly what "The Chosen One" did.
Almost every popular bullet point on the "Woodley is a bad match up for Condit" list played out in the first frame. Woodley kept Condit and his Muay Thai whirlwind at bay by stinging him with a straight and sharp right hand while darting in and out of range. The simplicity of this tool was greatly augmented by Woodley's frightening quickness and agility. Woodley awaited Condit's incoming barrages, stepped off-center and blazed a few zingers through Condit's guard to define his range early.
As soon as Condit upped the aggressiveness of his attack, Woodley ducked under the volley of kicks or punches and put Condit on his back. In the process of doing exactly that in the second round, Condit noticeably winced after finding himself on the wrong end of a Woodley power double. After the referee stood them up, Woodley unlatched a cleaving low kick that collided on Condit's lead, left leg with a resounding thud, and the subsequent force and loss of balance wrenched the knee of Condit's supporting leg, and he hit the canvas immediately, writhing in pain. The ref waved it off with no hesitation and Woodley picked up a 2nd-round TKO via injury.
What was the high point of the fight?
This is where the aforementioned anti-climactic part comes into play. Things were lively and heated in the first despite the ballsy statement Woodley made, and Condit has a well earned rep stemming from his extensive library of electric finishes, which tend to erupt violently and out of nowhere. The high point of the fight for Tyron Woodley was torquing Condit's knee initially with the raw thrust and power of his takedown prowess, but, for the onlooker, it doesn't do much. The first round exuded the air of a dog-fight but the eventual letdown of the outcome could make it pass-worthy.
Where do they go from here?
The question of whether the performance merited a title shot was cast at both Woodley and Hector Lombard, though for different reasons. Some feel Condit's injury devalued the accomplishment while others acknowledged the reality of Woodley picking off another respected big dog. The problem with the parameters of that debate is that there's not much room on the welterweight totem pole between former interim champ and number-one contender Condit and newly crowned champ Johny Hendricks, and anything perceived as a step down just wouldn't make sense for Woodley. Robbie Lawler, Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger or Lombard seem like the only justifiable options.
The good thing about Carlos Condit is that Joe Silva could match him up with the arena's popcorn vendor and we'd all pile in to see it. Some feel Condit has unfinished business after contentious bouts against Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann to start his UFC run, while the striking-centric styles of Tarec Saffiedine and Matt Brown lend obvious appeal. Demian Maia could be an intriguing possibility as well.