Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz, anyone?
A UFC championship belt has almost become something of a metaphorical megaphone these days. Indeed, call-outs have always played a massive part in the realm of combat sports but with the ever-growing presence of social media in this ‘click-bait’ driven world we live in, fighters now understand the power even the most simple of comments can have on their futures in the sport.
One man who has taken to his new championship-status with open arms is the UFC’s welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, who since defeating Robbie Lawler at UFC 201, has called out Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre and the man who seemingly everybody wants a piece of, Conor McGregor.
Woodley, who most recently defended his belt to a majority draw with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC 205, was seen to have had a rather heated backstage interaction with McGregor in the lead-up to the monumental show, and in the time since, has confirmed his interest in taking on McGregor in a 170lb title-defence, one that would see Conor attempt to earn himself his third UFC belt, a feat that perhaps nobody in the sport would have thought possible.
Now, in a video posted to his official YouTube account (under the title “the Champ Life” funnily enough) Woodley spoke not only on his views on McGregor, but also on his opinion on those who lower themselves to a certain level in order to ride his momentum and further their own name in the sport.
Speaking on their UFC 205 backstage altercation, Woodley had this to say.
“When he got in my face and I looked at him I said, ‘what’s up?’ At that moment he realised I ain’t that dude. I’m really about that life. I’m really from that life. My family is from that life. I’m actually one of the sharper tools in the box that haven’t been in the streets like that but I have family members, close loved ones, that that’s all they know.”
“So I’ve been around that a lot and I try not to take myself back to those dark areas, I try to stay sophisticated, stay professional but a few people can take you out of that element and bring that Ferguson back out of you and he almost did it. But I had to keep my eyes on the prize, defend my strap in a Fight of the Night performance at UFC 205.”
Nowadays it does seem as though the lines between the weight-classes are becoming somewhat blurred, and despite McGregor’s insistence that weight and height do not matter, Woodley seems to be of the opinion that a match made between Conor and a true 170lb-er would be one that would prove to be a wake-up call for him.
Taking Nate Diaz as an example, Woodley went on to speak on Nate’s move to the welterweight division, which prior to his pair of bouts with McGregor, had seen him go 2-2 against the larger opposition.
Woodley, who for sure weighs somewhere in the region of 195-200lbs, continued on by saying the ball is very much in McGregor’s court.
“Now that we got that done – that’s off the table – if Conor wants it he can get it. He knows how to get in touch with Dana [White], he knows how to get the contract set, and he really don’t want to fight. I’m not saying he should want to fight because I’m not a little dude. I ain’t Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz is not a welterweight. He did not do well at welterweight because he was undersized and these dudes are real gorillas in this weight class.”
“If him and his coach John Kavanagh and everybody think that Conor can do well against me and they gas this dude up – you know, he’s a dope fighter but there’s levels to this. When you start going up, it’s like me going up to 205 and challenging guys at that weight. When you come up to this weight brother, it’s real power, it’s real people that will put real hands on you, that’ll put you down to the canvas and you will not get up unless I let you up.”
Woodley – for the most part – used his wrestling, where needed, to nullify the offensive talents of ‘Wonderboy’ in his last bout, and for many, would be more than capable of holding the much smaller McGregor down to the mat if he saw fit. Tyron would be by far the largest man Conor has ever faced and though the power he holds in his left hand is undeniable, Woodley seemed full of confidence in the knowledge that his size would prove too much for the ‘Notorious One’.
“If you want to get in there with a lion and get your head bit off and have me spewing your blood all over the octagon while you’ve got that goofy tiger tattoo on your chest, looking like a clown with a clown on your chest, we can do it. We can do it in Ireland, Dublin, we can do it in the back of White Castle, I don’t care.”
While it does seem like a longshot, a welterweight title matchup between Conor and Tyron in Ireland would more than likely – once again – be another record-breaking contest for the UFC and I feel that McGregor’s underdog status going into such a bout would serve only to draw more eyes to what would truly be a ridiculous spectacle.
You can watch Tyron Woodley’s “The Champ Life – episode 1” in full below.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena