Kamaru Usman has been on a mindbending run heading into UFC 235, and is widely considered to be one of the most complete welterweights on the promotion’s roster. But, Tyron Woodley is asking how the challenger can take the welterweight belt from him this Saturday.
Usman has been awarded a title shot thanks to his 9-0 record in the Octagon, which includes wins over top tier fighters like Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia. Although Usman has recorded finishes in just two of those fights, many of them were dominant, one-sided affairs.
“I just wanted Usman to tell me how he’s going to beat me,” Woodley said. “‘Cause like I said before, Dong Hyun Kim is a judo master who wasn’t a striker. You look at guys like [Stephen] Thompson. Thompson was knocking out … Robert Whittaker fell victim to him, a lot of guys did. And [Usman] doesn’t bring that specialty in any category.”
“Yes he was a Division II NCAA champ,” Woodley said, while discussing the wrestling component to the match-up. “I’m not taking that away from him, but please do not act like that is Division I NCAA champ. It’s a different concept, it’s a different mentality, and it’s a different thing. So when I am competing with guys like [Josh] Koscheck who is a two-time NCAA Division I champion that scored zero takedowns, that had better striking, I just wanted him to really tell me how he’s going to win the fight.”
It’s an interesting debate. On one hand, you could certainly question whether Usman is a better striker or wrestler than Woodley. The latter does have more notable wrestling credentials, and while they both have the same number of stoppages via strikes (six), four of Woodley’s were by knockout. Usman has only TKOs. In other words, to date, Usman hasn’t showcased the kind of power Woodley has.
But, you could also make a convincing argument that Woodley hasn’t faced anyone with the comprehensive skill set and momentum Usman currently has. Not recently anyways. Woodley’s last defeat came against Rory MacDonald in 2014, who at the time, was sitting at the top of the UFC’s welterweight division. MacDonald is also, one of the most well-rounded and skilled welterweights on the planet.
UFC 235 will be hosted by Las Vegas, Nevada.