Recently in Atlanta, Tyron Woodley, a former amateur wrestler for the University of Missouri and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, became the welterweight UFC world champion after a stunning first round knock out of his opponent, Robbie Lawler. In so doing, Lawler became the seventh UFC champion to fall this year. Woodley is five foot nine, and 170 pounds of mostly muscle.
UFC, which stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a mixed martial arts event that began in Denver in 1993. The only rules of the fights are no biting and no eye gouging. Even these offenses are only met with a $1,500 fine. UFC fighting is one rough sport!
Woodley fought his first professional fight in 2009. His first professional UFC fight was in February of 2013. He won it just 36 seconds into the opening round against a fighter named Jay Hieron. In his next UFC fight, against Jake Shields, Woodley lost by a controversial split decision.
In the 2016 UFC world championship, Lawler was knocked out by Woodley in just two minutes and twelve seconds. It was the fastest finish in UFC welterweight title history, and only the second knock out for Lawler in his entire career. Lawler's win loss score is 27 to 11. Woodley's is 16 to 3. But even Woodley had to admit to that bittersweet quality of taking the title from someone he admired. Not that he minded taking the title. This marked the fifth knock out of Woodley's career.
Outside the ring, the two men compliment and credit each other.
Woodley is well known for his paralyzing overhand right, and used it at exactly the right time against Lawler on that fateful Saturday night. It's been a long road back for Tyron Woodley. After losing to Rory MacDonald in June 2014, Woodley rebounded with back to back wins against Dong Hyun Kim and Kevin Gastelum. He was then scheduled to fight Johnny Hendricks, but the fight was canceled when Hendricks didn't make the weight requirement. After that, Woodley decided to wait for a title fight against Lawler.
After the Lawler fight, Woodley told ESPN that he would never again allow an opponent to influence his fight schedule. However, it seems to have all worked out.
His next big challenge could be Stephen Thompson, a former professional kick boxer on a 7-fight winning streak, with a UFC win loss score of 13 to 1. This includes defeating Johnny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald. But if Woodley has his way, he may prefer Georges St. Pierre, who has a win loss score of 25 to 2, or maybe Nick Diaz, whose win loss score is 26-9.
Diaz would score a bigger paycheck for Woodley. “I would love to fight him at UFC 202. I think he deserves it,” Woodley declares with unintentional irony. “He's a guy who's been around the sport for a long time, puts a lot of butts in the seats, sells a lot of pay per views.”
Tyron Woodley is married, and has three sons and a daughter.