It wasn’t that long ago that Marshawn Lynch was making headlines over in the NFL with his infamous (and somewhat overblown) “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” series of press interviews. As he saw it, the NFL required him to talk to the press “following every game and regularly during the practice week...” or he’d get fined $100,000. But, there wasn’t any requirement on what, specifically, he had to say.
Perhaps that’s where Tyron Woodley was taking cues , when he used a lot of his pre-UFC 201 media time saying “I’m the best welterweight in the world” to whatever question was asked of him. And while the threat of a fine may not have been quite as looming as it is in the NFL, Conor McGregor getting yanked off UFC 200 for skipping a press conference definitely gave a “show up, or else” vibe to the UFC’s media requirements.
Coupled with, as he put it, a lack of “financial incentive to really push the fight,” Woodley just decided to focus on things other than promoting his first UFC title challenge, as he explained Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting):
"I felt like, in general, the fight could've been promoted a little bit better," Woodley said Monday on The MMA Hour. "We kind of got smashed in between UFC 200 and UFC 202. There wasn't a ton of publicity and a ton of marketing done for the actual fight, and with that said, I wasn't the champion at the time, so I didn't really feel compelled and I didn't have the financial incentive to really push the fight and go above and beyond.
"So I put all of my energy into my myself. They didn't set me up to get to the Fast & Furious set. They didn't set me up to meet with Dwight Howard and all of these guys. Those are relationships that I have built my own self, and I didn't feel obligated, so why am I going to tell you three days before the fight ‘I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this, I'm going to knock his head off?' You're going to see in three days, so you guys can be patient, the cage will lock, we'll get into a fight and you'll see. But I told you guys, I'm going to leave everybody's mouth on the ground and everybody is going to be in awe and they're going to be shocked. And that's what happened."
Of course, now that he is champion, will the incentives be there? Woodley has already been pushing for big name bouts against Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre over a fight with seeming no. 1 contender Stephen Thompson. But if the UFC doesn’t get those big fights done, they may end up with a champion all too willing to sleepwalk his way through media duties.