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Interview: Tyron Woodley on Ferguson turmoil, vows positive response for home town

In an interview with, Ferguson native Tyron Woodley discusses the riot and turmoil plaguing his home town, and how he plans on keeping focused on his UFC fight this weekend.

Photo by Anton Tabuena

Tyron Woodley was on the cusp of a title shot during his last bout at UFC 174, coming off two TKO wins over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit that shot him up the ranks. He eventually fell short that night, and as he speaks about that disappointing loss to Rory MacDonald, the 32-year-old  refused to give excuses for his loss.

"It's just a bad night. No real way to explain it," Woodley told, "No recourse on what happened. I wasn't ill. I wasn't sick. I wasn't out of shape. I didn't take it for granted, and I prepared for it properly."

Some say that in this sport, you're only as good as your last fight, and fortunately for Woodley he gets a relatively quick turnaround to try to  get back on the horse against top 10 welterweight Dong Hyun Kim.

"I got the call 3 days after I fought," he says about stepping in for an injured Hector Lombard, "It wasn't like I was at the beach drinking margaritas and eating roasted pigs. I actually was already in shape and didn't take much time off. I had 1-2 days off, then I was back in training."

"I was in Singapore training at Evolve MMA, and luckily I was at the same time zone when they called (from Hong Kong). It was about 3pm Singaporean time, and if they would've called me in St. Louis, I would've been asleep at 2 a.m and I might have missed that opportunity."

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He couldn't pin point a reason for that 'off night' in Vancouver. Looking back on it two months later though, as he is currently dealing with some serious distractions on this upcoming fight, Tyron realized that maybe this same lack of focus could have contributed a bit to his past performance.

"I think sometimes, there's just too many distractions. Like people in the internet, they don't realize that some of us have families, kids, gyms, and PR like we're doing now," he says while in Hong Kong to promote his fight, "Right now, I'm guessing Michael Bisping, and the rest of these guys just want to sleep or focus on the fight."

"I think partly, when they announced that Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler would be getting the next title shot the week before my fight -- after we've been already been told that we were getting a title shot -- I think mentally I told myself it didn't affect me, but physically, it was like the fight didn't mean the same to me anymore," Woodley said, as he opened up on his past mindset, "Now I'm just focused on winning, fighting hard, and winning. At the end of the day, if I do that consistently, I will be the champion."

Woodley says he knows what needs to be done, but the Missouri native did admit that this clarity stems from current political and social issues that he's trying to rid his mind of as he comes into this bout.

"I'm from Ferguson, Missouri, and you probably heard on the news all the rioting and all the crazy stuff. So that's a distraction," Woodley said, clearly still distressed about the current events in his home town.

"I was all in to it, reading and following up," he said, motioning to his mobile phone where he stays up to date on all the news while halfway around the world, "A lot of the people involved were people I've seen, are in my high school, my friends, or family members. I went to that gas station many times to fill up and my house is literally two minutes from there, so it hits very near at home."

"Our world in general is pretty f-ed up right now, but you have to be able to put that away and be focused thinking of the task at hand," he states.

As he deals with these issues and tragedies currently plaguing his home, his team is finding ways to help him stay locked in on the task at hand.

"This week, my coaches are going to grab my phone, and I'm not allowed to watch videos on Ferguson because really, what can I do from China?" he says, "The best thing I can do is go out there and put a whipping on Saturday, show them that someone from Ferguson is doing something positive, that he emerged from that environment he was born in, and he has made a good life for himself."

"I think that's the best thing I can do for the city right now."

Part 2 of our interview with Tyron Woodley will be up soon. Follow me on twitter for more updates and on-site coverage from UFC: Macau -- @antontabuena.

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