UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has urged Tyron Woodley to stop holding himself back and just compete.
Woodley hasn’t fought since losing his welterweight title to Usman at UFC 235 in March last year. He has since been scheduled to fight Robbie Lawler and Leon Edwards but both fights failed to come to fruition, the latter of which was due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
And Usman believes “The Chosen One” should start fighting the opponents he has been given rather than picking and choosing who he wants.
“This whole situation has kind of thrown a damper on things, but I feel like Tyron is holding himself back for god knows what,” Usman told MMA Fighting. “Cause you’re not getting any younger. You’re a talented guy. You’ve got a lot of skills. The only way for you to get back to the title is just to fight.
“Fight, guys. It doesn’t matter who you fight. Say yes to everybody. Go out there and fight, and I know he’s not saying yes to everybody.
“But say yes to anyone that they throw in front of you, and you go out there and knock out enough guys, guess what? They have no choice but to give you a title shot. This whole pick and choose who you want, this and that, that’s not working for you. Because the only thing you’re wasting is time.”
Usman even believes Woodley should follow the example of Gilbert Burns. Burns recently moved up to welterweight and has been open to fighting any opponent, even on short notice.
That attitude — along with winning his two most recent welterweight bouts — led to a high-profile fight with Demian Maia which Burns won at UFC Brasilia last month. As a result, he is now the No. 6 welterweight contender.
“That’s the approach you have to have,” Usman said. “The difference is Tyron is still hanging onto that mentality of being a champion and being accustomed to a certain kind of treatment. You’re not in that in that situation.
“You’ve got to approach it like Gilbert [Burns] is approaching it. You want to put someone in front of me, it’s an opportunity to make some money and knock somebody out. That’s why Gilbert has ascended the way that he has.”
Do you agree with Usman? Or do you believe Woodley deserves some leverage given that he was a former champion?