At UFC 228, welterweight’s front-runner Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley has defended his belt successfully for the fourth time, against the #1 contender from England Darren Till. Woodley made the fight look easy and landed a right hook to drop Till in the second round, forcing ground and pound upon him before sinking in a D’arce choke and getting the job done in style.
“The Chosen One” has been under criticism for his recent performances after claiming the belt from Robbie Lawler, when he knocked out Lawler in explosive fashion. Many people think he fights too safe for it to be entertaining. However, Woodley banks over $500k per title defence so who can blame him? But let’s take a look at Woodley’s title defences and see why he has played it so “safe”.
Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson 1&2
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a striking maestro of the highest order. A legit karate expert who has converted to MMA and become one of the best fighters on the MMA leaders roster. Before he met Woodley had a 13-1 record and was riding a six-fight win streak where he beat the likes of Robert Whittaker, Johnny Hendricks and Rory McDonald.
In both of the fights, it was slow and calculated with both athletes trying to find their way in to strike each other. Made slower by the fact they are both predominately counter strikers. What we saw was two of the UFC’s top strikers in a chess match of striking without the risk of getting clouted on the chin with a knockout counter shot. The first fight was a majority draw (meaning Woodley retained the belt) and the second fight Woodley won the decision.
Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia
Demian Maia is possibly the greatest submission expert we have seen inside the UFC since Royce Gracie. There is something quite incredible when you watch Maia get his opponent to the ground and wrap himself around them in a boa constrictor fashion and sink in an unforgiving submission to offer his opponent two options, tap or say goodnight. Prior to fighting Woodley, Maia was on a six-fight win streak where he submitted Niel Magny, Carlos Condit and Matt Brown all by rear naked choke.
So in this fight, it was clear Woodley wanted to avoid the ground game by all costs, a fact that somewhat suppressed his striking prowess as takedowns are much easier to secure on a wild swinging opponent. Despite what seemed like four million takedown attempts, Maia was unable to take down the champion and was forced to show his CM Punk style striking skills where Woodley was able to counter effectively and secure another title defence over a top contender.
So Woodley felt like he had a point to prove against Darren Till and he did just that as previously stated. I think we can all appreciate what an outstanding champion Woodley is. Explosive striking, legit wrestling and now a Brazilian Ju-jitsu black belt are all weapons “The Chosen One” has in his arsenal and he reads the fight game better than anyone in the welterweight division.
I think we will see Woodley as the welterweight champion for a long time and am very excited to see him defend the belt and compete for years to come!