Tyron Woodley will be defending his UFC welterweight title on March 2nd.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported on Sunday that Woodley is going to fight Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada. That obviously means that Colby Covington, who won an interim title last June, has lost his spot at the front of the line despite beating both Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos before Usman did.
Why did this happen? Per Helwani, it appears the UFC was not happy with Covington waiting for Woodley and not fighting another opponent.
In the end, the UFC chose Usman in large part because of its frustration over the fact that Covington, who won the interim welterweight title in June by defeating Rafael dos Anjos, refused to fight anyone else while Woodley was recovering from hand surgery. In the meantime, Usman defeated dos Anjos in late November and openly campaigned to fight any contender on short notice, which helped him leapfrog Covington in the eyes of the UFC brass.
Woodley (19-3-1) has been the UFC’s 170 lbs king since he KO’d Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 in July 2016. He has defended his belt successfully four times, most recently submitting Darren Till at UFC 228 in September, his first finish since the Lawler KO, and his first submission win since 2009.
Usman (14-1) has won thirteen straight fights, including the aforementioned dos Anjos win in November. He also bested Demian Maia by decision in May at UFC Chile. “The Nigerian Nightmare” has won seven of his nine UFC bouts by decision, and has shown over his last two fights that his cardio can carry him in the “championship rounds.”
UFC 235 is expected to feature light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against Anthony Smith in the main event, pending Jones’ ability to be licensed by the Nevada Athletic Commission on January 29th.