Tyron Woodley: I’ve never looked old and slow

Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, 38, has appeared hesitant to fight freely in his recent bouts, never really letting his hands go. In a recent interview with Steve Latrell for UFC.com, “The Chosen One” calmly talked about it, ahead of his fight vs. Colby Covington on Saturday night in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 36 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Have I ever shown that I don’t have anything left? You may see me pause, you may see me overanalyze a situation and not pull the trigger. But there’s never been a case of, ‘Oh, he looks old, he looks tired, he looks slow, he looks like he’s out of shape.’ I’ve never had that,” said Woodley. “I’ve been in five-round fights since 2016, either co-main event or main event. I’ve never had a three-round fight since. So I feel like this is something that’s just a part of me, like a basketball game being four quarters. To me, a fight is five rounds. That’s the way I mentally think about it.”

“I don’t allow what people say and what people think and what they want to see veer me off of what my gameplan is and what I need to do, because I’m the fighter. I’m the one that’s out there. And I know it. My coaches know. My family knows. So I’m just going to go out there and do me and do what’s best to go out and dominate. And I’ve shown more times than not that I’m fully capable of going out there and destroying anybody they put across from me.”

“I feel good. I feel good about the fight. I feel good about my preparation and the people I brought in. I also feel good about the moment in time. I feel like this fight is happening at the right time. I feel like my balance in life, just being clear-minded, going to be reactionary out there in the Octagon vs. over-thinking things is going to be very helpful.”

“There’s been a few fights in my entire athletic career, including wrestling, that I felt like I was just free and I just let go. More of those moments on Saturday is just going to put me closer and closer to accomplishing that mastery of mixed martial arts.”

“I’m fighting for myself. I’m fighting for me to go out there and unlock my true potential and accomplish mastery in this sport. It’s not the skill set. It’s never been the conditioning, it’s never been the hard work, it’s never been the mentality. It’s just been always something that would hold me back.“

Woodley has long advocated for social justice, and Covington has a MAGA heel schtick, so it would be effortless to build a storyline around it, but Woodley is not biting.

“I can actually put the weight on it, that people don’t like him, that people want to see him beat up, they want to see me break his jaw, they want to see me do all these other things,” said Woodley. “There’s 10-15 reasons I could rattle off about why people want me to beat him. If I do that and it makes somebody happy, well, we’ve got to question ourselves as a society. Why are you so happy about seeing somebody else lose? Also, if I need that extra motivation to actually win the fight, I need to question my integrity in this sport.

“I just want to beat him because he’s my next opponent, and because I should. I’m the best welterweight in the world. It’s time for me—for myself—to start proving that and going out there and fighting free. Should I really be out here competing if my only motivation—had he not pissed you off, had he not been saying politically crazy stuff, had he not done these things—then I wouldn’t have wanted to beat him? No. I’m the best welterweight and I’ve got to go out there and show that.”

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