Maybe he simply wasn’t happy with Tyron Woodley’s tweet about his press conference antics, or maybe Conor McGregor’s various run-ins with the welterweight champion prior to UFC 205 were done with an eye toward building interest in his next contest.
Given McGregor’s promotional genius, weight-hopping habits and previous assertions that a third title could be in his future, many are assuming that the truth lies in the latter statement.
‘The Notorious’ one has, of course, already had two fights at 170lbs, but it’s hard to know how much his tussles with Nate Diaz have taught us about his chances of success in the division. After all, Nate is really more of a lightweight, a big one perhaps, but a lightweight nonetheless and McGregor did struggle to overcome physical disadvantages in both their fights.
Still, in the second bout McGregor did overcome them and in the process showed that he had learned a lot about fighting bigger men from his loss in their first showdown.
Woodley, however, is a different proposition entirely. He has said that he walks around at 205lbs between fights, so he is a heavier man than Diaz, but he is also the same height and possesses the same reach as McGregor, while Nate held a two-inch reach advantage over Conor.
On a recent episode of Submission Radio, Woodley’s latest opponent, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, was asked how he thought McGregor would fair against the explosive ‘T-Wood’ and the rest of the welterweight division.
“I just think he is too small for the [170-pound] division,” responded Thompson. “I mean he is walking around right at 170, maybe a little bit less. I don’t think it would be a very good division for him to step up to.”
It wasn’t surprising to hear Thompson say this, especially after he stated earlier in the show that Woodley’s size and strength had been tough for even him to deal with.
“I was walking around at about 182 two weeks before the fight,” he said. “When I stepped into the octagon I was weighing about 178, which is way too light. Especially when you’re fighting someone like Tyron Woodley who is probably stepping back there at at about 195 or 200.”
“He felt really strong in the clinch position, on top, it was very difficult for me to get back up. You know, I’ve got guys in the gym that fight at 185, 205, and Tyron just felt way stronger than those guys.”
The karateka said that if he is granted a rematch, he intends on coming in heavier.
Despite saying all of this, when Thompson was asked what would happen if McGregor stepped up to fight either Woodley or himself, he was respectful of the Irishman’s abilities.
“You know what, it would be a good fight,” said the skilled striker. “No matter what, man. I mean he is one of the best fighters out there.”
Earlier on the same show, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold also gave his opinion on McGregor’s chances at 170lbs.
Talk turned to the topic of McGregor when Rockhold was asked who he thought would win between the two-weight champion and his American Kickboxing Academy teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov – the man most observers feel is deserving of the next crack at the lightweight title.
“McGregor’s dangerous,” began Rockhold. “Khabib can’t stay on the feet like he did against [Michael] Johnson, you know. I have never seen a left hand like [McGregor’s]. He just touches guys and they wobble. Khabib is unlike anybody else that I have ever grappled with. A [155-pound] man who can grapple with me and give me competition – I haven’t seen that anywhere. And I know what it’s going to be like. If Khabib gets a hold anybody, it’s over. It’s that one shot, it’s that striker vs grappler game. If Khabib gets a hold of McGregor, I don’t think he is going to last at all, but it’s the same thing with McGregor, you can’t give him the opportunity on the feet.”
For the same reasons that he believes McGregor poses a threat to Khabib, Rockhold feels that the SBG representative couldn’t be counted out in a match-up with Woodley.
“It’s an intriguing match-up, no doubt,” said Rockhold. “I think he is still dangerous to that division too – anybody that can strike that well. And it seems like his power can translate over divisions pretty well.”
“Tyron is not the biggest guy at 170,” added Rockhold, presumably talking about the welterweight champions height and reach. “Obviously he has proven to have some trouble in the striking realm with a guy like ‘Wonderboy’, so McGregor is going to be in that same realm.”