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UFC: Tyron Woodley on fighting teammates, Matt Brown and the ugly truth about Ferguson

UFC Number 3 ranked welterweight, Tyron Woodley discusses his reasoning for wanting a fight with Matt Brown, the added pressures of media duties during fight week and the unfortunate state of affairs in his hometown of Ferguson, MO.

Victor Fraile

Coming off a tremendous TKO victory over Dong Hyun Kim and moving into the Number 3 spot of the UFC's Welterweight rankings would normally provide an immense sense of satisfaction to most any mixed martial artist, but for Tyron Woodley, it just signifies the need to work even harder to advance toward a title shot. It's not just about a big payday; the belt is everything.

In this era of digital media reigning supreme, Woodley feels it's important to use the social media influence he has gained throughout his career to help boost his chances of making choice fights come to fruition. After all, as he once told me, ‘Lazy pigs don't get no slop.'

In a recent interview with Bloody Elbow, Tyron discusses his reasoning for wanting a fight with Matt Brown and the unfortunate state of affairs in his hometown of Ferguson, MO. Here's what he had to say:

Stephie Daniels: After some reflection on the MacDonald fight, do you have any thoughts on where you missed a step in that fight? Was it just an off day for you or something more involved?

Tyron Woodley: That's about the best way to explain it. It was just an off day. I don't have a ton of excuses or anything that might have prevented me from getting the win. I did what every other fighter has to do; media, weight-cutting, PR. I was in shape, prepared and I was ready.

I just had that moment where it seems like you're in a bad dream. You're swinging but the punches are coming out so slow [laughs]. I'm just glad I rebounded so quickly so that I can move forward from that.

Stephie Daniels: Is this one of those fights you'd like to get back for the win column, or is it just full-steam ahead and the rematch only matters if it's in the path to the title?

Tyron Woodley: If there was some controversy, or if I got knocked out really quick, or submitted after beating him up, then I would feel it was warranted. He won fair and square. I didn't perform the way I should have. There was no controversy, so I don't really think it should warrant a rematch. Do I want to go out there and see what happens between the best Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley? Of course. I think we're going to fight again anyway, so hopefully I'll get another crack at him.

Stephie Daniels: You and Robbie (Lawler) seem to be the destroyers out of ATT. He's coming off a big win over Matt Brown and you're right on the heels of the Stungun victory. Why do you want to fight Brown when he's slipped behind you in the rankings?

Tyron Woodley: As the song goes, ‘We dem boys', me and Robbie. He went out there and showed that he had great conditioning, great poise, good timing and power. In my opinion, I thought he won every round.

I like the fight against Brown because he was just in the title eliminator. Had he beat my teammate, he would be fighting Johny Hendricks. He's a Top 5 Welterweight and I think people would love that match-up. If it gets put on the same card as Johny and Robbie, you'll get a showcase of the Top 4 welterweights in the world. I always want to put myself into positions where I'm the next guy. If I was him, I'd want this opportunity, as well.

Stephie Daniels: Last question on the MacDonald fight. You have said you were dissatisfied with your performance because you didn't execute your game plan the way you wanted. Was part of that because you sort of second guessed yourself or got in your own head a little bit?

The breath got knocked out of me with the news that there was going to be another fight for the number 1 contender spot. The same taste and the same urgency and everything that the fight meant, it kind of flickered away from me.

Tyron Woodley: Ya know, I've been holding this back because I didn't want to come off like I was making excuses, but I took the fight with Rory based on a promise that the winner would be fighting for a world title. I went to Vancouver to fight the kid in his own back yard, because I was told that if I went over there and beat him, then I'm the next one up.

The breath got knocked out of me with the news that there was going to be another fight for the number 1 contender spot. The same taste and the same urgency and everything that the fight meant, it kind of flickered away from me.

I told myself, ‘I committed to this fight. I'm gonna go out there and send a message. If I can win this in dominant fashion, then maybe I can change their minds about that Number 1 contender spot.' I lied to myself. It did affect me. I was distracted. I was pretty upset about it and it kind of took a little bit away from the fight.

In addition to that, doing UFC Countdown, UFC Embedded, UFC Insider, two 14-hour media tours, radio station interviews, phone interviews-all this was back to back-in addition to traveling to a different country. Those things, no matter if I want to believe it or not, add up.

I also had a tough weight cut. The night before, I was doing all these efforts to make weight, and when I freaking get done, I'm like 177. I was like, ‘What the Hell?' I'm a professional. It ain't a Bingo game where they draw a weight out of the bowl. It's got to be 170 or 171 every time.

So, I made the weight, but when I walked into the cage, I can honestly say I felt none of that. I felt like I wasn't moving forward. I would tell myself to move, to punch, you see a face, hit him. Quit backing up. Get off the cage. Explode. Circle. Use your footwork.

I was telling myself these things, but my body wasn't quite doing them though. I don't think all of those things came into play, but they are the activities that took place that week, and maybe it did take it out of my body. Maybe it did take it out of my spirit. When I was out there, the only thing I was feeling was that my body wasn't doing what I was telling it to do.

Stephie Daniels: You are at ATT and there are quite a few top tier welterweights there, as well. Are there any guys out there that you would absolutely not fight from your camp?

Tyron Woodley: I've been offered teammates before and most of the time, it doesn't even make sense. We have an unofficial rule, no strap no scrap. Even if it is for the strap, we've still got to be able to communicate with each other and be like, ‘Okay Robbie, you've got the belt and I'm the Number 1 contender. What do you think about us fighting for 25 minutes?' We have to be able to sit down and have that conversation.

Now there are guys like Thiago Alves, and when I was an amateur, I used to come in and train with him. I used to get beat up, I didn't know any striking at all. All I could do was wrestle. I used to have to freaking run from his punches [laughs].

Then I started getting better at striking and he started getting better at wrestling. I've watched us both evolve as fighters and now that we're such good friends, I cannot even imagine or fathom the idea of looking across the cage at him, knowing we are about to touch gloves and scrap. I'm close to these guys, and there's really enough welterweight competition for us not to have to fight each other unless it's for a world title and it's been agreed upon by both guys.

Stephie Daniels: Every former Strikeforce fighter that I've spoken to has a universally bonded opinion that Scott Coker is awesome. Do you think he'll be able to turn Bellator around?

Tyron Woodley: For sure, I think Scott is the real deal. You always know where you stand with him. If it's no, it's no. If it's yes, it's yes. If it was yes on yesterday, it will be yes all the way through on whatever he promised you. He's a fair guy and a standup guy, and I think he'll do great things at that organization.

Stephie Daniels: Your hometown of Ferguson has been caught up in a fair amount of racism, police brutality and plain old hatred. What are your thoughts on the situation there?

Tyron Woodley: We've seen rioting, police brutality, the KKK has been here, Jesse Jackson has been here. Monks have flown in from India, recording artists, and more. It's a big topic right now. It's a hot topic. I would just prefer the city where I grew up and spent 20 odd years of my life to be a showcase for guys like me. I have a buddy who is a Grammy award winning composer, and another that's an engineer who works on missiles. I'm in the top of my division in the world in my sport.

We have overcome all the violence and distractions and circumstances that lie in that community. We found a way to make it. That's a story, but people don't want to hear that. That's not news to them. They want the drama and negativity, and it's just unfortunate that some people are just trying to get exposure from it.

Some of the people that were rioting and looting weren't even from that community. They actually traveled from other towns to steal and tear up the city that they don't even live in. It's so close to home that everyone wants to ask your opinion on the topic. It was actually distracting for me in this last fight with Kim, and I'm just thankful I was able to perform so well considering I have family and friends out there in the middle of all this.

Stephie Daniels: Have you ever experienced police harassment?

Tyron Woodley: You know, not just in the city of Ferguson, but in the entire St. Louis area, there is profiling, unnecessary traffic stops...I've had buddies that were stopped and got roughed up and slapped around by police. They'll put pieces of phone books in their shirts and beat them up without bruising them.

This is not new. I was in high school and we went to a fair downtown. The police cornered us and put us in a circle saying, ‘We heard there was an altercation.' We told them that we had just arrived and hadn't been in any fights.

They didn't want to hear what we had to say, so they packed us up and took us to the station, beat my friends up, held us for hours. They let all but one of us out, and wouldn't let us talk to the one that got beat up that was still in the jail. He looked like he got hit with a bat and they wouldn't let us communicate with him.

If you're killing someone the same skin color as you, then why are you gonna try to blow up the situation if somebody else does it?

Now granted, from the other side of the coin, there are kids that are murdering and killing each other, African-Americans killing African-Americans, whites killing whites; it's all the same thing, we're killing each other. If you're killing someone the same skin color as you, then why are you gonna try to blow up the situation if somebody else does it?

The fact is, some kid got killed that didn't have a weapon on him. Did he provoke it? Did he attack an officer? Did he reach in the car and grab a gun? Did he run away? Did he have his hands up? Those are the facts we need to find out for sure. All the other underlying issues, racism, profiling, police brutality, these things have been happening in Ferguson since I can remember. We need to evaluate ourselves as a community and the police force needs to be supervised better, because this has been an issue for a very long time.

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