Tyron Woodley prefers to fight on the road. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Tyron Woodley takes issue with Dorothy Gale. He believes home can be overrated.
Woodley can potentially lock down a title shot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division when he squares off with Tristar Gym export Rory MacDonald in the UFC 174 “Johnson vs. Bagautinov” co-main event on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. MacDonald, who was born a little more than 250 miles from the arena, must deal with all the distractions that go along with fighting so close to his hometown.
“I actually prefer to fight away from home,” Woodley said at a pre-fight press conference. “These guys are going to get blown up for tickets. Everybody’s going to want something from them. They’re going to feel that extra pressure to perform in front of their hometown. I’m coming up here to do work. For me, everybody’s asking, ‘When’s the UFC coming to St. Louis?’ I kind of want it to come, but I really don’t know if I want to fight on it if it’s in St. Louis.
“I’ll be able to train, I’ll be able to focus and I’ll be able to come up here,” he added. “At the end of the day, it’s about performing to the best of your abilities, and I’ve got to be able to do that in a cardboard box or in Vancouver. That’s my goal, to just put myself in the best position during training camp to come out here and perform my best.”
Woodley has surfaces as one of the world’s premier welterweights following back-to-back finishes against Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit. He respects the tools MacDonald brings to the cage and finds their high-stakes clash intriguing.
“I would like to believe when I’m on I could be a bad matchup for anyone,” Woodley said. “I think Rory is one of the more well-rounded fighters in our division. I think he’s coming into his own.
“It’s going to come down to performance,” he added, “and I do honestly believe out of all the welterweights in the division, I think us two have the best ability to perform overall in the best way. It’s a good fight to be in.”
Based at an American Top Team affiliate in St. Louis, Woodley owns a 3-1 record inside the Octagon -- a contentious split decision loss to Jake Shields the lone blemish. The 32-year-old was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri, where he won more than 100 matches in his career. Woodley has not fought since his technical knockout victory over Condit at UFC 171, their battle cut short when the “Natural Born Killer” suffered a ligament tear in his knee two minutes into the second round. Though the fight ended under less-than-ideal circumstances, Woodley wonders why some continue to question the legitimacy of the victory.
“It wasn’t like he slipped on a banana peel in the cage,” he said. “If he was beating me in the worst way and there was like 10 seconds left in the third round and he tore his ACL, [then] now we’ve got something to talk about. I don’t think he was winning a millisecond of the fight, and he was the No. 2 guy at the time. It shouldn’t discredit me at all for the performance I was putting on.”
Ovince St. Preux’s slow but steady ascent on the UFC’s light heavyweight ladder could soon pick up some speed.
St. Preux will put his four-fight winning streak on the line when he meets former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Ryan Jimmo in a 205-pound showcase at UFC 174. The 31-year-old Miami native has rattled off 12 wins in his past 13 outings, compiling a perfect 3-0 record since touching down in the UFC. St. Preux last appeared at UFC 171 in March, when he rendered Nikita Krylov unconscious with a first-round shoulder choke at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
Jimmo has alternated wins and losses in each of his past four appearances. The 32-year-old Canadian karateka last competed at “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” Finale in April, when he knocked out Sean O’Connell at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
“Ryan is a durable, powerful fighter,” St. Preux said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “If I let him implement his game plan, I’ll be in for a long night. He’s got a lot of power in his right hand and in both legs. He moves amazingly well for a light heavyweight, and he’s a highlight KO waiting to happen if I stand in front of him.”
THIS & THAT
Home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, Rogers Arena opened on Sept. 21, 1995 at a cost of $160 million ... Reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has landed 117 more significant strikes than any other 125-pound fighter in UFC history, according to FightMetric data ... Ali Bagautinov is a two-time combat sambo world champion ... Andrei Arlovski is one of 13 men to have held the undisputed heavyweight crown, along with Mark Coleman, Maurice Smith, Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, Kevin Randleman, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez ... In 16 professional appearances, former Strikeforce light heavyweight titleholder Rafael Cavalcante has never gone the distance ... The three women to whom Valerie Letourneau has lost -- Claudia Gadelha, Alexis Davis and Sarah Kaufman -- own a cumulative 44-7 record ... Jason Saggo holds the rank of brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Royler Gracie ... Japanese prospect Michinori Tanaka captured and defended the Pacific Xtreme Combat bantamweight championship before signing with the UFC ... When Mike Easton was born on Jan. 25, 1984 in Washington, D.C., the top five songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 List were Yes’ “Lonely Heart,” Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s “Say Say Say,” Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon,” The Romantics’ “Talking In Your Sleep” and Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride” ... Korean Top Team’s Tae Hyun Bank has not recorded consecutive victories since winning five in a row between July 23, 2007 and May 19, 2008 ... Kiichi Kunimoto has delivered half of his 16 career wins by submission: three by arm-triangle choke, two by armbar and one each by shoulder choke, guillotine choke and triangle choke.