Tyron Woodley might not be too interested in defending his UFC welterweight title against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert Demian Maia, but 'The Chosen One' thinks that he probably matches up best with him over the other top contenders.
“I’m not against fighting Demian Maia,” Woodley told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, per MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti. “I think, out of all the guys in the top-10 that are really threatening guys who are frightening in the Octagon — whether it’s submissions or knockouts or just their ability to be tough — I match up the best with him. I’ve fought that style so many different times. I’ve trained against that style.
“My last five fights have been against southpaws — Dong Hyun Kim, Kelvin Gastelum, Robbie Lawler, Stephen Thompson — so as far as the stance and the style, I’ve seen it so many times and I have such great resources, guys like Ben Askren. I might even pick up the phone and grab Jake Shields, because a lot of people don’t realize that Jake Shields went to Brazil and dominated Demian Maia.”
Woodley, a wrestling powerhouse with devastating knockout power, last fought at UFC 209 where he defended his strap against the elusive Stephen Thompson. The five-round championship bout was largely a stalemate, but 'T-Wood' walked away with the majority decision win. Prior to that, he fought 'Wonderboy' to a draw in his first title defense last year.
While Woodley thinks he matches up well against Maia, the 35-year-old is still not too excited about fighting him.
“It didn’t interest me,” he said. “It didn’t make my adrenaline pump. To be honest, neither one of those guys (Maia or Masvidal) did, because they’re trying to build their brand up and I’m trying to build my brand up, and I feel like my brand is a little bit further than theirs is, so it didn’t really interest me. You’ve got to realize, man, I’ve been in two very annoying training camps. Stephen Thompson is not a fun training camp. It’s not fun having Sage Northcutt kick you through a cage or having all these different guys throwing random kicks that you’ve never seen before and dealing with it, and not being able to explode like you want to at times, and being very wise, because if you make a millimeter mistake, you get knocked out.
“So for me to go into another camp — the two best specialists in our sport just so happen to be in my weight class. There’s no other weight class that has these guys who are specialists who are still around. It’s not like the Royce Gracie days, but Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia have found a way to adapt their striking style and grappling style into an MMA style, and it’s very frustrating. So I was excited — Jorge Masvidal, he kinda pumped me out a little bit with some of his shenanigans during the interviews. It would’ve been a fun training camp."
Woodley would prefer to put on a show to make up for his performance against Thompson but says fans shouldn't blame him if he fights conservatively against Maia.
“I had Shane Mosley Jr., his son was going to spar with me. I had a whole set-up at Wildcard Boxing. I was already planning a camp based on possibly fighting Masvidal or Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz, a striker. And now, I haven’t talked to Dana yet, they haven’t called and offered me the fight yet, I’ll get with those guys are see what’s what, but to be honest — you know me, I’ve never taken anyone lightly, but think about [UFC 211]. How ridiculous was that card? And if you can think of one fight, one fight on the whole card, which one are you going to plan on it maybe not being the adrenaline-packed or the action-packed fight? It’s going to be that one. And you’re going to put me in that fight again? So I can have to hear all this stuff from the fans again? I’m going to get it done if that’s the next fight up, but don’t blame me.”
Woodley is a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter and will look to break the top five with a win over Maia.