This story couldn’t be written in the lead-up to Sean Woodson’s UFC debut on Friday against Kyle Bochniak. It couldn’t even be published until after Woodson made weight for the fight.
He made weight. Now we can reveal what couldn’t be brought up during fight week.
The cheat meal. It used to be the best-kept secret among prizefighters cutting pounds before a bout, but with social media recording every move of every athlete, some secrets get out. In the case of Woodson, the short notice call for the biggest fight of his career in July came the day after his cheat meal. Or as he likes to refer to it, his cheat day.
“I was already training and preparing for a fight on August 17th, so I was in somewhat decent shape and the only frustrating thing about getting that call on a week’s notice was it was literally the day before I had a big cheat meal,” said Woodson, who added that he plans out his cheat days two to three weeks in advance, and that this one added five to six pounds.
Now he had to cut to the featherweight limit to take on Terrance McKinney on week five of Dana White’s Contender Series. At stake for the 5-0 fighter from St. Louis? A UFC contract. But we’ll get back to that in a second. First, what was possibly in that five to six-pound cheat meal?
“I had pizza,” he begins. “That’s my go-to cheat meal. Then I got a large Blizzard from Dairy Queen and I added cookie dough and peanut butter cups to it to make it even more. Then I had a couple donuts after that. It was an epic one, for sure.”
Woodson can afford to laugh now, but at the time, getting the weight off was going to be a daunting task, and that’s without even looking at the prospect of facing an opponent as hungry as he was. But the short prep time worked in his favor.
“Even when I do have a fight and there’s eight weeks, I never over think things and let the mental aspect of the game get the best of me,” he said. “But definitely having it only be a week’s notice, all I focused on was the task at hand and that was just show up, make this weight and fight. I didn’t really have time to think of anything else. That definitely was a positive.”
He made the weight in Las Vegas, and then after a tough first round against McKinney, a flying knee put an end to his opponent’s night. It was a victory to remember for Woodson, who was just happy to get the win until he started thinking about what he accomplished. Then he wanted more than just that six in the win column.
“Just overcoming that huge obstacle (making it to the fight on short notice), I was so happy with just getting that win that I wasn’t even concerned with the contract,” Woodson said. “The moment the fight was over, I was already on top of the world. (As far as the contract) They may have wanted a more experienced guy, but then when I started thinking about it, the fact that I got dominated in the first round the way I did and overcame adversity and adjusted and found a way to win in the second, I was pretty sure they were gonna give me the contract.”
They did. Sean Woodson was now a UFC fighter. First stop? In-N-Out Burger, of course. But once back home in St. Louis, it was back to work, because if the short notice call came again, he was going to be ready for it. Luckily for him, that didn’t happen, and he was able to get a full camp in for Bochniak. It’s a tough test for a UFC debut, but Woodson has passed tough tests before, and he’s ready for any more that come his way.
“There are things fighters possess that can’t be taught,” he said. “You gotta be born with it, and I believe I have that. I’m a fighter through and through, and from the time I was six years old I knew what I wanted to do with my life and it never changed.”
That’s a long time to do anything, but Woodson loves the game, and he feels like he’s just getting started. The end goal? You can guess that, and no, it’s not a month full of cheat days.
“I’m in this for the world title,” he said. “I want to leave a legacy behind and I want to be a champion.”