Woodley to Usman: I see you waking up to smelling salts

Sunday, May 20, 2018

UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman dominated Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 129 on Saturday night, pushing his win streak to eight. Division champion Tyron Woodley also earned a unanimous decision over the 4th degree black belt, and a stats comparison is revealing.

Woodley outstruck Maia by 57 to 28, while Usman’s margin was greater still, at 66 to 27. While Woodley stopped all 21 of Maia’s takedown attempts, Usman shut down all 15. Maia, unfortunately, is 0-49 in takedown attempts across his last three fights.

Usman now wants a title shot.

“I think I should fight for the belt next,” said Usman, as transcribed by Tristen Critchfield for Sherdog. “I just dominated [Maia] better than Tyron Woodley,” Usman said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “Tyron ran from him the whole fight. Tyron threw, what, the fewest strikes in a championship fight ever? And I just went out and I dominated the guy from start to finish.”In this instance, Maia was a short-notice replacement for Santiago Ponzinibbio, who withdrew from the main event due to injury.

“Demian Maia, he’s a legend. He’s a veteran in the game. He knows how to fight. He’s been through so many five-round fights. He’s headlined a lot of cards, fought Anderson Silva for the title, fought Tyron Woodley for the title. He’s a veteran, he knows how to fight, and he’s always training. He’s a jiu-jitsu wizard. So I wasn’t coming in thinking, ‘Oh, well, I’m going to be in better shape because he’s taking this fight on three weeks’ notice.’ No, I’m pretty sure he’s been training jiu-jitsu, and he was working. He’s a veteran. He knows how to fight these rounds. This was a new one for me, fighting five rounds, and I just proved that I can go five rounds and still be dominant.

“Let’s be honest. Nobody — nobody in my division wants to fight me, because I am the hardest fight for anybody. This fight right here, this a fight that Dana White wanted. He wanted to test me against the most dangerous guy in the division, and that was the most dangerous guy in the division. The champion is easier for me to fight. And you’ve got these other two bums that are fighting for an interim title, those guys are bums, those guys are easier for me to fight. This was the hardest fight in the division.”

Usman is referring to the UFC 225 Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington co-main for the interim welterweight belt, being held because Woodley was out for an extended period due to surgery.

“Upwards and onward,” said Usman. “It’s either Woodley or the winner of Till and ‘Wonderboy.’ That’s it.”

Woodley replied not unkindly.

“Kamaru Usman, congratulations,” said Woodley, as transcribed by Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie. “I don’t ever want to take away the credit. Demian Maia is a game opponent. Me as the champion, I’m always welcoming any challenger. Just make it to that point, I’ll be on the other side of the Octagon. I did see a couple things that if you do against me, you might end up waking up with the smelling salt. But hey, hats off to you. Great job. Just being real.”