Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley was seemingly not his usual self during his fight against Kamaru Usman on Saturday at UFC 235. It was puzzling to see for his coaches, especially after seeing a change of demeanor a few seconds into the fight.
”He seemed focused and OK in the locker room,” Woodley’s coach Din Thomas told ESPN. “But 10 seconds into fight when he backed up to the fence, I said, ‘Oh no.’ And when he went for the guillotine and got taken down, I said, ‘Oh no,’ because that wasn’t something we practiced. That’s when I knew there might be a problem.”
The problem, according to Thomas, is a lack of motivation, which he believes is rooted to Woodley’s strained relationship with the UFC brass.
”Tyron, he’s kind of a martyr in a sense,” Thomas explained. “A lot of the things he’s fought for himself, will help future fighters. Standing up for himself and not accepting every deal, that might have hurt him now, but I think in the long run, it will be good for fighters in the future.
”He wasn’t a company man and he stood by his guns. He never settled for less than he felt he deserved. Now that he’s not the champ anymore, it may be a problem. I do think, had he fought Colby, he would have been more motivated to perform. I know that for a fact, actually.
“But that’s not an excuse for his performance against Usman,” he added. “I just know he would have been motivated to hurt Colby.”
Woodley had aspirations to jump to middleweight and fight for the title. According to Thomas, these days are more about reclaiming the title then eventually riding off into the sunset.
”I was hoping after he won the middleweight belt, he could defend it and then call it quits,” he said. “I was looking at maybe a year or two left in his career. I think he’s got much more to give to the world than fighting inside a cage. I believe we take another run at the welterweight belt, see how that goes.
”If he can get back to the title again, that would probably solidify him back in the talk of the greatest welterweight of all time,” he continued. “A couple bad performances can’t define his career. After that, he would have nothing left to prove.
“The only thing I think he can do now is make a run back to the belt.”