Tyron Woodley file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
When I called Tyron Woodley, I expected to have a quick chat about his favorite workout tracks, songs the Strikeforce welterweight uses to get himself hyped up, maybe some childhood favorites from growing up just outside of the musically fertile area of St. Louis, Mo.
What I wound up with was some insight, not only into “T-Wood’s” current musical preferences, but how those tastes tie into his deeply-rooted beliefs.
“I used to listen to a lot of rap, but I’ve kind of veered away from that,” says the 28-year-old Missourian, who meets jiu-jitsu ace Andre Galvao in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 9. “Lately, I listen to a lot of spiritual music before going out to fight. It really helps me reflect on my training and remember my purpose in fighting.”
That purpose, Woodley says, is something he’s reminded of each time he hears gospel singer Micah Stampley’s “Another Place,” a seven-minute composition which surges with impassioned vocals, epic guitar and some surprisingly heavy drum fills.
“It’s all about taking yourself to another dimension, basically breaking through. It kinda tells you about getting out of your comfort zone and getting to that next level. That’s what MMA is to me: breaking through to that next level.”
Woodley also cites “Bless You God,” an album by hometown friend and vocalist Meaghan Williams, as a motivator.
“There’s a track called ‘Your Latter Will Be Greater’ that basically talks about how everything in the future will be better than your past,” says Woodley. “I listen to that before I go out there, and I remember all the hard work I’ve put in. It gives me inspiration to keep pushing and fighting through.”
When it comes to music which correlates specifically with the looming Galvao bout, Woodley has only one tune in mind.
“The song I’m gonna use for my entrance is by a local [St. Louis] artist called Thi’sl,” Woodley says. “With this fight, it’s definitely one of my main tracks. What it reminds me of is not giving up, and not losing focus on the task at hand.”
Fittingly for a man about to step into the biggest fight of his career, the song is titled “I Ain’t Turning Back.”