Tyron Woodley could get the next shot at UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks.
In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show, Woodley discussed the potential matchup, his respect for Hendricks and more.
On his correspondence with Hendricks’ camp: “I just messaged his coaches and I said, ‘Tell Johny I said congratulations. Tell the champ to heal up.’ I know he’s dinged up a little bit. He’s got some cuts and some bruises, but he had a phenomenal performance, and he’s earned it. He had to petition like I feel I’m doing now for the shot. He finally got it. … He’s done so much to earn that belt that I thought as a martial artist and as a respectful person in the division, [I should] congratulate him on achieving greatness. So I did that, and he said hopefully it’s an honor to give you the title shot, and they felt I deserved it.”
On Hendricks: “That’s why I want to compete against him, because I think he’s my toughest match. Let’s get that baby out of the way now because he’s the toughest style matchup for me. I think I’m the toughest style matchup for him, and I think this is an amazing fight for the fans.”
On how the fight could play out: “I think it’s a rolling of the dice, like the fight you just saw with him and Robbie [Lawler], just dirty boxing. It was up close and personal. I think for me, believe it or not, I can get faster and I can get stronger. I think I will have to do that to him just to employ that threat of me being able to cover that ground, get in his face, get out and not engage into that brawl, but if we get there, we all know I’m OK with it. I’m not afraid of it, but I don’t think we need five complete rounds of that. I think the way you separate yourself from your opponent is show the fans, show those judges that you’re striking him and then you’re getting out of the way and you’re not getting hit back. I think that makes it look like you’re scoring more points.”
On how they match up in the wrestling department: “Then wrestling, I think he’s going to try to take me down. I’m going to try to take him down. I tell myself I’m not going to forsake my wrestling anymore. I’ve had five fights with no offensive shots. That was purposefully so I could develop my striking, so I could get comfortable. … I definitely think I can take him down. I think as far as the ground game, I think I’m more skilled on the ground than he is. I think people still have to realize me and Johny have wrestled, and Johny has never shot on my leg and taken me down, to my knowledge. We had a very close, controversial match in the Big 12 finals where it was said that I had bit his finger and he was issued a penalty point and I lost the match. I was pretty pissed about that for a long time. We had some freestyle matches where we were back and forth at each other.”
On Hendricks’ intangibles: “His credentials are what they are. It’s more important that he rises to the occasion when it’s a big stage -- that’s more of a threat to me than his wrestling. The fact that when he’s fighting for the world title, he turns it up a notch. If it gets tough, he won’t get nervous, he won’t get scared. And if he’s losing, he won’t take no for an answer.”
On what happens if he gets a different opponent next, like Rory MacDonald, instead of a title shot: “I think if I have to fight Rory or somebody, I think it’s going to be a bad night for him. … You can delay me, but you can’t deny me. I will be the champ.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:42).