Tyron Woodley doesn’t appear to be interested in making his first welterweight title defense against the most highly-ranked opponent.
Instead, the newly crowned 170-pound king wants to get paid — and in his mind, there are only a couple of fights that can truly make that happen. That became clearly apparent when Woodley was asked in a post-fight interview on Fox Sports 1 by Stephen Thompson, currently ranked No. 1 on UFC.com, about a potential showdown between the two men.
“I think you said you wanted to fight Robbie Lawler, and you’ll get the opportunity to fight Robbie Lawler,” Woodley told Thompson. “Nick Diaz comes off suspension in two days. He’s a money fight. I’ve been in this game, I’m an OG, I’ve been here for a while. I want to make the big dough, so if he wants to fight August with his brother Nate Diaz [at UFC 202], I think me and him can showdown at the event. I’m uninjured. August, I’m ready to go, 202.
“Let’s make the money. I think he’s deserved it. I think he’s put enough butts in the seats he deserves to make that payday. So let’s go get it.”
Diaz reached a settlement with the Nevada Athletic Commission in January to have a five-year suspension reduced to 18 months after he tested positive for marijuana at UFC 183. The Stockton, Calif., native’s sanction was retroactive to the event, making him eligible to return to the Octagon this August. Currently UFC 202 has 12 fights booked, including the Nate Diaz-Conor McGregor headliner.
If fighting the elder Diaz in three weeks prove unrealistic, Woodley has another opponent and venue in mind, as he said during Saturday’s post fight press conference that a date against former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at Madison Square Garden in November would be ideal. St. Pierre recently announced his intention to make a comeback to the Octagon as soon as he was able to come to terms on a deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Woodley believes that by vanquishing Lawler, who authored a memorable stretch of fights the past couple years, he has earned the right to call his own shot.
“Robbie Lawler is a guy that I admire. I love his comeback story. No other mixed martial artist has had a comeback story like Robbie Lawler,” Woodley said. “I technically just beat the best welterweight in the world. It wasn’t a guy out of his prime. These guys are legends. Nick Diaz is a top 5 welterweight of all time in my eyes. Georges St. Pierre is the No. 1 welterweight in my eyes. If I’m an athlete in this division and I want to say I’m the best in the world, I feel like I should compete against those guys. I don’t feel any obligation to go by the rankings. I want to go out there and I want to fight the money fights.”
The 34-year-old Woodley was sharp in returning to the Octagon for the first time in a year-and-a-half at UFC 201. Now that he has achieved a lifelong goal, he simply wants to maximize he earnings potential while he’s on top of the division.
“I want to make some money. I’m gonna be honest. Goal No. 1 is to be welterweight champion of the world, but I’ve put in too much time and I’m away from my family way too often,” he said. “This is a sport where we can make cash now instead of just saying this person deserves it and he worked his way through the ranks.”