In some respects it feels as though there’s rarely been a better time to be a free agent in MMA. Promotions like Bellator and the PFL have worked to find room in the North American market that got swallowed up by the UFC when they acquired Strikeforce. And a sudden increased interest in celebrity boxing, bare knuckle boxing, and other hybrid forms of fisticuffs have been a boon to several notable fighters following their exit from the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization.
Among those is none other than former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. The ‘Chosen One’ exited the Endeavor-owned promotion following an 8-year stint that saw him capture gold and defend his belt four times before losing the title to Kamaru Usman in 2019. The defeat started a four-fight slide, during which Woodley failed to win even on round against his opponents.
If that seemed like an especially low note to go out on, however, Woodley parlayed his past glory into a PPV boxing match against internet celebrity turned pugilist Jake Paul. A fight Woodley has claimed resulted in the highest payday of his lengthy combat sports career.
The longtime Roufusport fighter may not have won that bout either, but that hasn’t stopped him from making some big plans for the immediate future. In a recent interview with Fight Hub TV, the 39-year-old revealed that he’s hoping for a very busy 2022, including four trips to the ring in four different fighting disciplines (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“So I’m just excited to be my own boss. I’m really the only real, true free agent in the whole sport. Nobody is a real combat free agent, but I am. I can go box, I can come fight here [at Triller Triad Combat]. ... I can do whatever I want to. So I’m really enjoying that freedom. Next year I plan on fighting four times in four different forms of combat. MMA; some form of boxing; an actual, real boxing fight; and do something special for New Year’s.”
One of the fights still on Woodley’s mind, unsurprisingly, is a rematch against Jake Paul. Woodley made it clear that he still feels as though he won their first meeting, and once Paul vs. Fury is in the rear view mirror maybe negotiations can be restarted. “I don’t think he wants a rematch,” Woodley explained, “but at the end of the day, if it happens, I’ll get the job done this time. I’ll knock him out.”
In the meantime, it seems fans can hope to see ‘T-Wood’ back in the ring sometime in January, assuming everything goes to plan.
“January, March, July, and December,” Woodley said of his targeted timeline. “I’m just trying to have a fight that people give a f-ck about. I don’t care about the belts and names and all that. If people care about it and it’s a big fight, and it’s really built up really well, that’s what I want. If it’s not that, I don’t care about, ‘Oh, he did this and he beat (him),’ because it didn’t matter when I was doing it. I was at the top forever. I was three, four years without losing to nobody, didn’t lose a f-cking round, and it never monetized to the bags I’m getting now. So 2022, January, March, July, December, some asses getting beat.”