Some surprising news surfaced in mixed martial arts (MMA) yesterday (Thurs., March 22, 2018) when a report arrived the UFC was targeting an interim welterweight title bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington at May’s UFC 224 from Rio de Janeiro.
Upon second glance, it may not be all that surprising considering the UFC’s extreme focus on interim title fights over the past year-and-a-half or so, but the timing was a bit odd because divisional champ Tyron Woodley, although on the sidelines since last July with a shoulder injury, was planning to return this summer.
So the outspoken 170-pound champ not surprisingly spoke up on the situation on this week’s episode of UFC Tonight (via MMA Weekly), detailing his recovery and projecting a July return:
“I feel really good. I had surgery in December. I had two series of PRP, as well as stem cell injections to my shoulder. I have one more series in April. After that, I’ll be in training camp.
“I fought four world title fights in 12 months, if anybody deserves to heal and be back at 100 percent (it’s me). I will be back when it’s time for Tyron Woodley to be back.
“My projection is July. The doctors are telling me that. I’m feeling good about it. I’m healing up very well. I’m back to training again. After I do that third series of PRP and stem cells, I’m gonna be 100 percent. Somebody is getting hurt.”
With Woodley predicting he’d be back in three months, he predictably scoffed at the prospect of an interim title being made after he had fought so often the year prior:
— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) March 22, 2018
Woodley is on the mend, but his next fight is unknown in terms of date and opponent. He urged everyone to be a little patient with him, insisting that the top-ranked combatants in the deeply talented welterweight division would all get sent packing one by one.
He believes it’s an exciting time for the weight class, with surging names like dos Anjos and Convington joining rising contenders like Darren Till and Kamaru Usman stirring things up on social media, even if Woodley believes they ultimately don’t really want to face his jaw-dropping power:
“Everybody is gonna get it. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a matter of when. At the end of the day, every welterweight that wants to be at the top is gonna have to see me at some point,” Woodley said when asked about who is next for him.
“I could fight (Rafael Dos Anjos), I could fight Colby (Covington), I could fight (Kamaru) Usman, I could fight Darren Till. It’s a good time for the sport because I’ve got the red dot on me, but to be honest, I don’t think any of these guys want to see me. I’ve already beat the toughest guys in the division. I’m the champion for a reason. I got here the old school way,” he continued.
“They are doing what they are supposed to. They’re supposed to want to fight me. They’re supposed to want to be the UFC champion, but it’s not gonna happen.”
‘The Chosen One’ is correct in his suggestion that the welterweight division is buzzing with top contenders and talent at the present moment, but the issue is all of them are just talking about fighting each other instead of actually sorting out the mess at the top.
With dos Anjos rumored to face Covington in Brazil and Till supposedly headlining UFC Liverpool against former title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, the division should get some much-needed direction in the somewhat near future.
If and when it does, the returning ruler will hopefully have his next rival.