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 411mania » MMA » Columns

411 MMA Interviews: Tyron Woodley
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 03.15.2014

Late last month, 411mania.com got the chance to catch up and speak with UFC welterweight fighter "The Chosen One" Tyron Woodley (12-2, MMA; 2-1, UFC). In just a few days, Woodley will face former UFC interim welterweight champion and WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit (29-7, MMA; 6-3, UFC). Condit, is currently ranked at No. 2 in UFC's welterweight division, and Woodley is at No. 11 after a tremendous first round knockout win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 167 last November. For Woodley, an impressive win over Condit could net him a shot at the title. During UFC's Black History Month tour stop in Los Angeles at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club, an inner city rec center for youths, Tyron Woodley and fellow UFC fighter Phil Davis were in attendance to speak to kids to talk about their careers and spreading a positive message of hard work and staying out of trouble. We also got the chance to talk to Woodley one-on-one about his upcoming crucial bout at UFC 171, set for later this week.

Jeffrey Harris: So you are just a couple of weeks out from this fight, how are you feeling?

Tyron Woodley: I'm feeling awesome right now. It's funny. The last two fights, it came around right at the end. I started feeling really good. My timing started to come in. And there's no better feeling than knowing that you're in shape, knowing that you put in the work, and things are starting to all come together. If I peaked a week ago, that might be too early. If I don't peak at all, that's a concern. So for me to know that my body is in good shape, it's ready to push through 15 minutes of hell. I'm excited about this fight.

Jeffrey Harris: So when you are this close out, where should you be in training right now?

Tyron Woodley: Fifteen days away from a fight is different for everybody. Some guys start tapering now. Me? For wrestling, we push it a little bit. So I'm going to push this week. It's actually probably going to be my most miserable, hardest week of training camp, but my body has been through weeks of conditioning. I'm in great shape, so I have the durability to withstand this type of training. I'm going go out there and I'm going to train hard this week, put myself in a great mental spot to go into this fight, getting ready to get victorious. I'll have my last hard day Saturday. Sunday, I'll probably take off and enjoy it with the family. Monday, I'll probably start strategizing, bringing the weight, going over game plan, really a lot of the live sparring and a lot of the live stuff is going to be out.

Jeffrey Harris: What do you think is the trickiest aspect of dealing with Carlos Condit, who is ranked No. 2 at welterweight and is really one of the most dangerous killers in the division?

Tyron Woodley: Ranking to me is a number. I think on paper, the only sport that is played on paper is football when you flick it through the uprights. I think that you have go out there and you have to compete in a fight. So for me, I've never been a huge fan of ranking and guys – "He's ranked this" – because in my mind, it's all about style match-ups. A guy that's ranked 25th can match up very well with a guy that's ranked No. 1. So to me, it's about identifying what this guy brings to the table, knowing what his threats are, but also forming my gifts around those things, not completely acknowledging he's great at this. He's a killer at that. He's a submission artist. He's active off his back. He's a point fighter. But I really got to see what he does and then find out how can I employ my will? How can I put my game plan? How can I defend what he's trying to do and then go on my offense. So that's really been the whole camp. You have to appreciate what he does. You have to appreciate his resume, his credentials, and how he brings it every fight, and I don't expect a B- Carlos Condit. I expect an A+ Carlos Condit each fight. He's a young guy. He's not that old. He's a couple years younger than me, so he's still getting better. And I expect him to be better in this fight than he's ever been, and that's the Carlos I want to fight anyway.

Jeffrey Harris: I think a good example of what you mean with rankings is when Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal fought Emanuel Newton the first time, and I think at that time, many had Mo ranked in the top 10 of his weight class. I don't think Newton was even ranked in the top 25 at that point. But then he got knocked out by Newton. And when the two fought again, and people were still ranking Mo higher, Newton beat Mo again in a five round fight.

Tyron Woodley: Well you know, it's funny because Emanuel Newton trained with my striking coach, Arnold Chong, a guy trained with at the end. Sometimes when you go into camp with positive people, they make the world of difference. Some guys have a hard time believing in themselves. Like for me, everyone is saying, "Tyron, you're a great athlete. You're one of the best in the sport. You're going to be a future champion." Not until I realized [it] myself and I started believing [in] myself that those things were true; that I would be a champion and that I am one of the best fighters in the world. That's when you get the product in the cage. So I think he had a self-actualization moment where he realized, "I can beat Muhammed Lawal. I can win this fight. I can go out there in a dominant fashion. I knocked him out. Everyone said it was a fluke. I can come back [and beat him again." And Mo's a good friend of mine. I think he'll come back stronger than ever. But sometimes we have to realize who we are for ourselves first, and I think that's the path to greatness.

Jeffrey Harris: I can definitely tell you feel that way about this fight with Carlos.

Tyron Woodley: Yeah, you know I didn't ask for this fight because I plan on losing. I'm not in a position in my career where I'm just trying to take a fight to make a payday, and if I lose, it's not that big of a risk. Yeah, it is a big risk. It's not that often you get to climb up the ladder, get the number one contendership, and fight for the world title. I'm putting myself in a position, taking my destiny in my own hands, asking for a fight which I feel if the risk is high, the reward is higher. If I beat him, I'm fighting for the UFC world title. I don't have to fight three or four fights in between. There's a ton of killers in the welterweight division. It's the best division in the UFC, and for me to fight the top guy they have to offer right now, be confident that I can beat him, puts me in a great spot mentally going into the world title fight.

Jeffrey Harris: Is the bulk of the training happening at American Top Team?

Tyron Woodley: Yeah, I did some training at American Top Team. Also at American Top Team Evolution. I've been to some of the training there. I've got Jordan Mein there now training with me, had a kid named Taylor Craw, a lot of great wrestlers, conditioning coaches. So for me, I needed this to be all about me. Sometimes mixed martial arts is a selfish sport. You need to think all about yourself. And in hindsight, when you get done, you're victorious, everything, the financial gains for your family, for your gym, for your career, everybody gains after that. So for me, I have to really think about Tyron for this fight.

Jeffrey Harris: For a person like you, you really seem to always exude a great attitude, a positive attitude. And we're here at the Boys & Girls Challenge Club today in Los Angeles, so do you plan on sharing that message and sharing that positive message with kids here?

Tyron Woodley: For sure. Outside of mixed martial arts, talking to kids and motivational speaking or doing seminars, I enjoy that more than anything; sometimes more than the fighting because I feel like god has given me these gifts…the reason I nicknamed myself "The Chosen One" is because I really feel god chose me to be in this sport for a reason. Life adversities. Things I had to overcome. Things that I was successful with, it built me to the fighter that I am today, and these kids need to understand that. Life is a journey. It's not a quick road to the top. You're not going to leave here and be in the UFC tomorrow. You got to be patient with the process. You got to be ready to put in the work and really put yourself in a position where you can be successful.

Jeffrey Harris: Are there any people or sponsors you would like to thank or give a shout out to?

Tyron Woodley: Yeah, first and foremost I want to thank my family: my wife and my sister, Julia. My team, American Top Team. They've really been instrumental in making sure that I can focus on training, taking all the duties in my gym. Also American Top Team, they've had my back. I've never been with another team. It's my goal and my job to make our team the No. 1 team in the world. That comes by getting us our first championship and really having a team mindset and family mindset. So I want to thank those guys. Obviously my sponsors: Dobbs Tires, they've been with me since day one; my new restaurant, The Woodley Family; Strange Donuts. I got a ton of support for this fight, and it's just amazing that I have all these guys like Mind Body, Sky Zone, a lot of unorthodox sponsors that have made my training camp where I can go and buy supplements, or running shoes, or gloves, or hotel rooms, or fly somebody from Canada without economically being stressed about it. So I really appreciate all the support. And stay tuned. UFC 171, March 15. Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley. It's going down! Don't blink.

Thank you to the UFC for having us at the event and to Tyron Woodley for taking the time to speak with us ahead of the fight. UFC 171 is set for Saturday, March 15 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The main card will be broadcast live on PPV. Prelims will be shown on Fox Sports 2 and UFC Fight Pass.


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