Lloyd Woodard’s MMA philosophy is not a complicated one.
“A mountain-man beat down is when you beat the s--t out of somebody,” Woodard recently told Sherdog.com of his intentions inside the cage. “You go out there super aggressive, like a wild animal, and you can't control a wild animal. If you put a wild tiger in the cage, it's going to try to break the bars and s--t and try to get out. That's how I feel every time I get out there.”
The Missoula, Mont., native will have the chance to show MMA fans exactly what he means tonight when he squares off with Rick Hawn in the lightweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 66. Taking place at the I-X Center in Cleveland, the evening’s main draw airs on MTV2 and Epix at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“If Rick Hawn wants to point spar a wild animal then he is going to get f---ing hurt,” Woodard said of his impending clash with the former Olympic judoka. “I'm not scared of Rick Hawn. I'm not scared of any man. I'm planning on going out there and cracking his head. I'm coming straight forward at him. I'm not scared to get hit, and I think that's what makes me wild and so good at what I do.”
A former Season 4 welterweight tournament finalist, Hawn looked superb at 155 pounds in his sixth-season quarterfinal against Ricardo Tirloni, blasting the Brazilian with a hard right hand en route to a first-round knockout victory. Despite Hawn’s impressive lightweight debut, Woodard says the onetime Olympian is only one step on his path to a rematch with reigning Bellatorr champion Michael Chandler.
“The only thing in my mind right now is to go out there and beat up Rick Hawn and then beat up the next guy they put in front of me so I can get my rematch with Michael Chandler,” said Woodard. “I want to go out there and fight him again and set the record straight. I want to give him the hardest f---ing fight of his entire life.”
Chandler handed Woodard the only loss of his career in the Season 4 semis, taking a hard-fought unanimous decision to advance to the finals against Patricky Freire. Though Woodard managed to get the better of the future champion in the second frame of their three-round contest, Chandler’s wrestling ability and pressure ultimately proved too much for “Cupcake” to overcome.
“I wanted to get him off me so bad, and I was pushing it too. He just plain out worked me. That's the kind of thing that drives me,” said Woodard of his lone career defeat. “I fight with all my heart when I'm in that cage. A lot of my trainers get upset at me about it, but I think my heart is my strongest attribute. I fight with my heart more than I do with my head.”
Entering the Season 6 draw, Woodard was viewed by most as the underdog in his quarterfinal matchup with the aforementioned Freire. However, someone apparently forgot to tell that to Woodard, who shocked many by injuring Freire’s arm with a kimura to advance to the round of four.
“When I had a hold of Patricky ‘Pitbull's’ arm, I remember thinking, ‘Is this motherf---er going to make me twist his arm all the way around?’” Woodard recalled of the fight-ending submission. “At the same time, I also thought in my head, ‘Holy shit, my f---ing grandma is watching this right now.’ But the next thing that popped in my mind was that I wanted [to win], and I didn't care what I had to do to get to the next guy in this tournament.”
The “Pitbull” victory now behind him, Woodard has been open about his desire for a rematch with Chandler, leading some to conclude that the Dogpound Fight Team representative may be overlooking his current competition. Not so, says Woodard, who simply plans to defeat all those standing along his path to redemption against Chandler.
“I am a professional, but I know what I want, too. I'm not going to sit around and pretend that I don't want this title and I don't want to beat up Michael Chandler. I'm not looking past [Hawn], but Chandler is giving me my drive right now.” said Woodard. “I plan on fighting Hawn like I did the first two rounds with Patricky [Freire] for the entire fight. He better be f---ing ready.”