There’s no one way to win and keep a championship in combat sports. But while most adopt a tunnel vision approach, staring straight ahead with no distractions in training camp before a big fight, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley takes a different road, opting for a tornado instead of a tunnel.
“I came to grips that I live a chaotic life and that’s how God created me,” said Woodley, who makes the fifth defense of his title this Saturday night against Kamaru Usman. “I would be very, very scared to fight if I didn’t have a lot going on. I never had any fight camp that I didn’t have a lot (going on), whether it was positive or negative. There’s always been something outside of fighting. It takes my mind off walking in there where somebody’s trying to hurt me. Somebody’s trying to take my belt, somebody’s trying to end my streak and take away what I want to be my legacy. So I just recognize that chaos is a part of life – don’t run from it; embrace it.”
So as 2019 enters its third month, Woodley isn’t just focused on retaining his belt.
“My goal this year is to do three major films,” he said. “I talked to my agent and I’m definitely gonna be doing a lot more films, so I’m pumped about that. I’ve got an album coming out March 4 called ‘Chaos Theory,’ and I’ve already got my second album complete. I’ll have three projects out musically in 2019 and hopefully three big films and I’m looking to get a lead in a film as well.”
Yes, three music projects and three films, along with his continuing roles as champion, husband and father.
“This window’s only gonna be open for a short period of time, so while it’s open, I’m running through every single door I can because I’m the champ,” he said, and hey, if he can pull it off, more power to him. But there’s a hungry contender in Usman waiting for his shot to take the crown, and if he can’t do it, there’s a line of welterweights right behind him eager to step into the fray against “The Chosen One.” But don’t mistake the 36-year-old’s busy schedule for a lack of focus or a crack in his foundation. He still knows what’s paying the bills right now, and as B.B. King famously sang, he’s paying the cost to be the boss.
“I have no shame in saying that the toughest competition is behind me,” Woodley said. “That doesn’t mean I think these guys are walks in the park. It’s just now my toughest opponent is myself. It’s not just going out there and beating guys; it’s destroying them. It’s really separating myself. I want it to be Tyron Woodley, the greatest welterweight of all-time and everybody else. Now that’s my competition, to not let these young kids get a name off me.”
The last “young kid” to try was then-unbeaten British star Darren Till.
“He was getting a lot of push,” said Woodley of the Liverpool native. “It’s not like he didn’t deserve it. He was going out there, he was stopping guys, had a big win against Cowboy Cerrone, and he was really talking the talk and he sold so many seats when he fought over the water that maybe he deserved the hype he was getting. He was younger, he was undefeated, he had one draw in his career, he showed crazy knockout power, crazy aggression and he was huge for the weight.”
But Woodley made it look easy in the main event of UFC 228 last September, holding a shocking 57-0 edge in significant strikes over Till before submitting the challenger in the second round. It was Woodley’s fourth successful title defense, and he’s never looked better.
“I’m the best in the world,” the champion said. “I’m supposed to win.”
He’s expected to win again this weekend in Las Vegas, a place where he is 5-0 as a pro, and Woodley isn’t going to dispute such talk, despite Usman’s obvious talent and 13-fight winning streak.
“If you separate all the martial arts, I’m gonna win every single one every single time,” Woodley said. “And in MMA, what fighter has shown a better Fight IQ and more explosiveness and the ability to get from here to there in a fraction of a second? Nobody else. So when I look at all those things, it just gives me more confidence in this fight.”
In other words, just another Saturday in the life of Tyron Woodley.