It’s no secret that Dana White isn’t Tyron Woodley’s biggest fan, as the UFC president has repeatedly criticized the welterweight champion during his reign.
The latest shot at Woodley came during a media scrum late last week, when White addressed the UFC 233 situation, a card which still needs a main event. It seems that the promotion wanted Woodley to make a title defense in Anaheim on Jan. 26, but White complained about what he perceives as welterweight champion’s unwillingness to fight on a regular basis.
“When is Woodley ready to fight anybody, ever? Tell me when,” White said. “Yeah [he just fought three months ago], and it took us forever to get him to fight that fight. He never wants to fight. You want to be a world champion, but you don’t want to fight anybody. That’s a problem.”
Woodley successfully defended his belt at UFC 228 with a second-round submission of Darren Till on Sept. 8. Since claiming welterweight gold with a first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler at UFC 201, the St. Louis, Mo., native has defended the title four times: once in 2016, twice in 2017 and once in 2018.
Woodley claims that he never said no to fighting at UFC 233. Instead he is simply waiting on doctor clearance for his surgically repaired right hand.
"I never said no to Jan. 26. Let's get that on record," Woodley said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday. "I just asked for a little more time so I can go to my doctor tomorrow in Pensacola, Florida, and have him evaluate my hand -- the expert.”
If Woodley is not cleared for UFC 233, he said he plans on making his return “in the first quarter of 2019.” Woodley’s fight frequency surpasses a number of other UFC title holders, but he pointed out champions like Rose Namajunas, who hasn’t fought since April, are given a “pass.” While White has hinted at creating an interim title at welterweight, Woodley says it would be reckless for him to compete before he was cleared.
“I don’t want to be remembered as a guy that lost a fight to Colby Covington, or anybody else, because he knew he wasn’t 100 percent, or wasn’t given the chance to at least go through the physician that performed the surgery on his hand to get his clearance,” he said.
“What a champion doesn’t do, he doesn’t go out there with an injury,” Woodley added. “He doesn’t go out there knowing he’s not 100 percent and rolls those dice, because if I go out there, and my hand’s not ready to go, and I fight Colby Covington, and I come up short that night, nobody’s going to care that my hand’s hurt. Colby Covington’s going to be, ‘Nah nah nah nah, ha ha ha ha ha,’ and he’ll never fight me again, because he knows the only chance he can beat me is if I’m lacking in one department. Outside of that, it’s virtually impossible for him to beat me.”
Woodley added that he has played the role of company man for the UFC more than once. Now, though, the 36-year-old is also concerned with building a legacy.
"I've stepped up for the UFC many, many, many times, but at one point you've got to start monitoring your legacy, monitoring your title run, monitoring the way you want to be remembered," said Woodley, 36. "I take pride in being the best welterweight in the world, and I don't make money if I don't fight. But I'm not going to just go out there and fight for money. I fight for legacy first, and money is gonna come with it."