Tyron Woodley has given his breakdown of how exactly he would go about taking out one of the sport of MMA’s most notoriously tough-chinned customers as speculation about him fighting Nate Diaz grows.
The UFC’s welterweight champion has found himself on the verge of signing on to compete against one of the sport’s biggest names in Diaz, but he says the ongoing negotiations have been hampered by his opponent’s unwillingness to end his self-imposed hiatus for what would amount to a shot at the welterweight title.
Nate, just like his brother Nick, is in a period of inactivity right now that is, in part due to his disillusionment with the UFC and his value to the company, but also something that has stemmed from his decision to sit out and wait for the immeasurably lucrative trilogy fight with the UFC’s lightweight champ Conor McGregor that just seems to be something of an inevitability in both men’s future at this point.
And though everyone expects to see McGregor-Diaz 3 at some point over the course of the next year or two, something that caught the MMA community collectively by surprise was the speculation linking the younger Diaz to a 170lb championship showdown with ‘the Chosen One’, with the champ even stating today that he started a training camp for a bout that could well fill the headlining spot at the promotion’s end-of-year card at UFC 219.
Woodley seems to like the match-up enough to sign on the dotted line despite having some ongoing problems with his shoulder, and in an interview with MMAFighting expressed his supreme confidence at being able to take out the man who even the hard-handed McGregor struggled to put away at last year’s UFC 202.
“I consider Nate not the type of grinding grappler, the static strength opponent that would present those problems [for my injury] someone who’s going to be in the clinch, who’s defending takedowns, going for a lot of shots.
“Throwing a lot of power at Nate, I think that’s how you lose to Nate, when you just try to one-punch shot him, because he has a strong chin, as him and his brother have shown time and time again. They’re volume punchers, they’re cardio fighters. They try to do the mental warfare within the Octagon and before the Octagon.
“So, really, you never throw overhand rights to beat them, and I think I can stop him without my overhand right punch. He’s not going to try to take me down. I don’t necessarily have to take him down. But if wanted to, I can’t see it being much of a fight for him to stop me from taking him down.”
The size difference between the two, given that Diaz is a more natural 155lber and Woodley is a pretty huge 170lber, would, of course, be a factor – in the eyes of many – but for Woodley the fact that Nate’s toughness and style have seen him have at least some success at welterweight before, makes the fight interesting enough to get it signed.
Such things don’t seem to bother Tyron too much, though, and according to him, he just sees the opponent in front of him as the big name he has spent so long campaigning for. Turning down such an opportunity, understandably, just wasn’t really an option for him.
“Nate’s fought at welterweight before. It’s not like he’s a tiny guy and I’m overpowering him and I’m overwhelming him. I’m just a big welterweight in general.
“So it’s not like I’m just trying to bully poor Nate Diaz. I got offered the fight. I’m just trying to make it happen, and I’m just really curious why it’s not happening. What’s his logic for not fighting me? He got the same notice for the fight camp that I got, and actually, if I ain’t mistaken, I just saw him do some type of Ironman contest about a week ago, so he’s got to be in cardiovascular shape.
“It’s not like he’s going to fight a new training style that he can’t get ready for and prepare for. He’s going to fight the same Stockton style every time. I mean, he’s never changed his gameplan, never changed his style. So, what else is he going to do differently?”
It’s hard to know how much weight there is to this seemingly unavoidable speculation but even though it seems like Nate just will not budge unless the price is right, a shot at the welterweight belt and the super-fight that a win over Woodley would set up with McGregor, may well be too much to pass up on for Stockton’s finest.
It’s a case of risk against reward and the rewards could well be more plentiful than any we have seen in this sport to date.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena