By Nick Catlin
At UFC 235, Tyron Woodley lost to now welterweight champion Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision. Usman will defend his title on Dec. 14 against interim champion Colby Covington.
For Woodley however, it felt strange as to why he wasn’t even discussed as a candidate for the next title fight. Nor did it seem he wanted it. But in the sport of MMA, we’ve seen time and time again where former champions get an immediate rematch for the title.
There are several reasons as to why Woodley wasn’t granted the rematch with Usman. His relationship with the UFC, his fighting style, and Covington’s interim title all play a part in the decision to not book Woodley.
UFC president Dana White and Woodley don’t see eye-to-eye. This was most evident after the Demian Maia fight in which he dominated and won via unanimous decision. This led to White avoiding a super fight for Woodley against legend Georges St-Pierre. White instead went with then middleweight champion Michael Bisping to fight St-Pierre.
Woodley began to grow a distaste for the organization, due to White’s comments about how Woodley’s fights are boring and don’t draw eyes. Despite that, Woodley fought the legitimate No. 1 contender for all four of his title defenses prior to Usman’s victory.
Once Woodley lost the title, White got what he wanted. To move on from a fighter he didn’t feel could sell in a division that started to become saturated with talent from top to bottom. Which leads to the next point when discussing who deserved the next shot.
Covington has won his last seven fights in dominating fashion, especially the last three against notable opponents. Against the likes of Robbie Lawler, former champion Rafael Dos Anos and Maia, the script is set to for him to fight Usman.
Along with being able to put on impressive performances, Covington attracted attention from people no one else in the sport acquired thus far. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted wishing the fighter good luck in his fight against Lawler. His sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were in attendance for the fight as well.
When a fighter is able to obtain viewership from the Trumps, that catches the eyes of the UFC and influences their decision to let him fight for the title next. Woodley’s problems come from entertaining the fans and them seeking more of him in action, but his fighting style doesn’t warrant that from fans, specifically casuals, and in a stacked division, they needed to move on and experiment with other contenders.
Edited by Emma Moloney | email@example.com