Just a couple of days after UFC 214 and his much-derided decision win over Demian Maia, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley revealed in an interview with Ariel Helwani that he had torn his labrum during the very first round of the fight.
“I threw my shoulder out in the first round, I wasn’t able to throw any damaging shots — for you guys who don’t understand what a labrum tear is, go get on Google or Wikipedia and figure it out — and I still stayed the course, I stayed on path, I stayed on point, I executed the gameplan,” Woodley said on Helwani’s weekly show, The MMA Hour. “I had to reduce all of my shots from overhands, uppercuts, things that were hurting my shoulder, to straight punches.”
“So, sorry in advance, I’m mad because I’ve had this surgery before. It’s not a fun one. It’s not a quick recovery(via MMAFighting).”
What Woodley didn’t mention, however, is that he was already injured going into the bout.
During the latest episode of Woodley’s podcast, Morning Wood, the fighter and his trainer Din Thomas defended the performance, which due to it’s cautious nature had drawn vociferous boos from fans in attendance at the Honda Center in Anaheim. They seemed very pleased with their work overall, especially considering Woodley had suffered a somewhat debilitating injury so early in proceedings. Thomas even asserted that the media narrative after the fight might have been very different if Woodley had made it known that his shoulder was in such bad shape.
“Had you complained about your shoulder in the middle of the fight, it would have been a different story told,” said the coach. “It would have been, ‘Tyron Woodley tears shoulder and wins unanimous decision’ or ‘shuts out jiu-jitsu master.’ As opposed to, ‘Tyron Woodley wins a boring decision.’
“Same exact fight, but had you just been like, ‘Aw man, I think I hurt my shoulder,’ and then it came out that the shoulder was torn, same exact fight would no longer have been a boring decision, it would have been a gutsy performance.”
It was at this point that Woodley interjected and claimed that he had torn his hamstring in the build-up to the fight.
“The champion in me wouldn’t allow me to complain, wouldn’t allow me to make excuses,” he said. “Like, if you really want me to be honest, Dean, you and I both know I frickin’ tore my hamstring two days before the weigh-in and I couldn’t even really stretch or I couldn’t hardly run.
“There are so many things that go into a fight, I never mentioned it, I never complained about it, I knew adrenaline would take over, and I’m not complaining about it now but there are just so many things that us fighters, not just me…I’ve known times where Jorge Masvidal fought KJ Noons with a broken hand, I know [Daniel Cormier] has been in a few fights with a broken hand. Guys that go in there with injuries, they don’t complain, they just go in there and get the job done, we don’t need a pat on the back.”
“But even if I didn’t hurt my shoulder, even if the fight was as is and I was 100% and nothing happened, it’s still a brilliant performance, still a very masterful execution of the gameplan, a frickin’ focus like flint – not aborting what we needed to do to get the job done. And it wasn’t even a safe fight, it was just a tactical fight.”
Regardless of how Woodley frames this performance, it has damaged his brand and his prospects of landing really big money fights. At the UFC 214 post-fight press conference, the promotion’s president Dana White announced that returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre would face middleweight kingpin Michael Bisping later in the year. White had previously said that the winner of Woodley – Maia would land in the lucrative slot opposite St-Pierre, but the prez claimed that Woodley’s performance had led him to reconsider.
“You ask fans if they want to see Tyron Woodley fight again. I think [the answer] would be a flat-out, ‘No,'” said White. “Who wants to see Tyron Woodley fight again?”
“He is an absolute physical specimen. The guy could have finished that fight at anytime he wanted to but he didn’t want to take the risks. You take no risks, you get no rewards.”