The MMA world hasn’t heard much from Tyron Woodley since “T-Wood” fell to Nate Marquardt last July in a Strikeforce title-fight. The loss was the first of Woodley’s career, dropping his record to 10-1. With injuries and the ineptitude of Strikeforce management prolonging his return to the ring, Woodley has spent the time off training hard for his UFC debut and will enter the Octagon with a level of confidence he seemed to lack during his days on the Strikeforce circuit.
Woodley’s unveiling in the infamous eight-sided cage is scheduled for tomorrow night at UFC 156 where he’ll face Jay Hieron (23-6). In a recent interview with the UFC’s website, the powerful grappler revealed he plans on making an example out of Hieron – a bold claim to be sure – and then moving on to the upper-echelon of the division to prove he belongs amongst the elite.
“Jay Hieron is a tough opponent, he’s got good name recognition, he just had a really close fight with Jake Ellenberger, and knocking him off in great fashion is gonna put me where I’m supposed to be. I think Strikeforce missed the opportunity to market me the way they should have, and I think I’m gonna be a star in the UFC,” the 30-year old said boldly. I’m gonna go through Jay Hieron – no disrespect to him – and the punches he’s about to get have nothing to do with him. It has something to do with proving something to myself, really leaving it out there and giving a first good impression in the UFC, and from that point on, I want the Top Five.”
“Let me knock them off, and I’m ready to do it. I want Rory MacDonald, Nick Diaz, Martin Kampmann, Ellenberger, Carlos Condit – that’s who I want after this fight and I’m gonna ask for them and I’m not gonna be quiet about it because a lazy pig don’t get no slop,” he continued. “I want to make sure I’m putting myself in position to get a crack at Georges St-Pierre because I feel like I match up very well with him and it’s too long of a road to be going from the bottom and working your way through a round robin tournament. I realize that and I’m ready for it.”
Asked to elaborate on his attitude towards in-ring action, Woodley revealed his loss to Marquardt gave him a sense of freedom he’d lacked as an unbeaten fighter. And, after showing a ton of toughness in the tilt, as well as owning wins over the likes of Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine, Woodley knows he already has the skills to score success against solid competition.
“I’m fighting with a different meaning and a different passion. What can happen? Get knocked out again? Lose again? I lost in the worst fashion you could lose in. I lost in a world title fight with all the marbles on the line, I lost by knockout, and I had my first loss. So in this fight against Hieron, nothing can happen that’s worse than what I’ve already had,” Woodley concluded.
Fans can catch the bout between Woodley-Hieron on FX when the network airs the preliminary portion of the card starting at 8:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC