Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champ Tyron Woodley hears the confident talk from Kamaru Usman, but he believes that more than anything else, the challenger is trying to convince himself.
“He says a lot of stuff and sometimes when people talk too much, they’re trying to reassure themselves,” Woodley said at a media event Monday (transcription via MMAFighting.com). “You haven’t heard me talk about Usman.”
The 36-year-old Woodley believes every opponent he has faced inside the Octagon has presented a unique stylistic threat, based on their martial arts disciplines, but claims that there is nothing in Usman’s arsenal that stands out.
“I just wanted Usman to tell me how he’s going to beat me,” Woodley said. “‘Cause like I said before, Dong Hyun Kim is a judo master who wasn’t a striker. You look at guys like [Stephen] Thompson. Thompson was knocking out ... Robert Whittaker fell victim to him, a lot of guys did. And [Usman] doesn’t bring that specialty in any category.”
Usman is brimming with confidence heading into this weekend’s title bout, riding a 13-fight winning streak with notable wins over Demian Maia and most recently against Rafael dos Anjos last November to earn himself the title shot against Woodley.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” largely relies on his wrestling in his fights and has a good pedigree, as a NCAA Division II champ in 2010. However, Woodley, who was a two-time Division I All-American at the University of Missouri, warns Usman -- and fans -- not to compare the two achievements.
“Yes he was a Division II NCAA champ,” Woodley said. “I’m not taking that away from him, but please do not act like that is [a] Division I NCAA champ. It’s a different concept, it’s a different mentality, and it’s a different thing. So when I am competing with guys like [Josh] Koscheck who is a two-time NCAA Division I champion that scored zero takedowns, that had better striking, I just wanted him to really tell me how he’s going to win the fight.”
Woodley claimed he’s focused solely on his own game plan this camp, before reiterating his opinion that Usman doesn’t offer any threat to topple him and end his reign as the 170-pound champ.
“I looked at his feed, ‘18 days, 17 days,’ like, I’m working,” Woodley said. “I’m planning my [rap album] release party, I’m training, I’m getting my game plan down. I don’t have to talk a lot because I’ve done it already. I’ve done it, I’m not going to stop doing it, and he just has not shown me that he provides the recipe or the cure to beating me that everyone else supposedly has.”