For months, Tyron Woodley campaigned for a bout with Georges St-Pierre to no avail. But, following his impressive win at UFC 228, Woodley believes he no longer needs to defeat the legend, in order to be regarded as the best welterweight ever. Is he right?
Woodley defended the welterweight crown for a fourth time on Saturday night, by taking out Darren Till with a D’Arce choke in round two. It was a memorable win for Woodley, as the rising star landed just one strike on the welterweight champ, before he tapped out.
Well, for some time, Woodley has been saying that he’s the best welterweight the sport has seen. But, the powerful wrestler has also repeatedly said that he wants to fight the consensus greatest, GSP.
As it stands right now, there’s really no indication that St-Pierre is interested in fighting Woodley. The former welterweight and middleweight champ has said he’s looking for new ways to enhance his legacy, and in his mind, reclaiming the 170 title doesn’t do that. So, where does that leave Woodley? If he’s never able to fight the legend?
Following UFC 228, Woodley had this to say about facing St-Pierre (quote via MMA Junkie):
“It’s always appealed to me, but I’m not going to keep calling out a guy that’s already had nine title defenses, ran the whole division,” Woodley said. “He stepped away from the sport, he came back, he made it very obvious that he wanted to fight certain types of fights and it didn’t look like he wanted to fight me, so. At one point I thought I needed to beat him to be the greatest because who is going to say he’s not the greatest welterweight of all time?
“He beat the best welterweights in the world. It wasn’t like he was just running through guys that was horrible. He was beating stud after stud after stud and he really separated himself from everybody else. I watched him do that for so long and I always envisioned fighting him, always envisioned beating him. I told myself that I had to beat him to be the greatest, but I don’t.”
If we look at what Woodley’s accomplished thus far in his UFC run, chances are most people believe he needs to score some more wins, before he can replace GSP as the best welterweight to date. As Woodley noted, GSP defended the 170 crown nine times. Woodley’s only done that four times thus far.
Some observers, however, like to make these debates about abilities, which can be somewhat problematic, when we’re comparing fighters from essentially different eras of MMA. Would prime Woodley beat prime GSP? Maybe. But, GSP boosters would probably counter that he defeated hard hitting wrestlers, similar to Woodley, during his reign.
This aside, if Woodley can add a couple more impressive title defenses to his resume, there will be a lot less folks scoffing at his ‘greatest’ claims. At this juncture, it looks like that’s what he’s going to need to do, before taking GSP’s mantle.