Should the matchmakers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship decide to let two-division champion Conor McGregor challenge for a title in the welterweight division, Tyron Woodley will be there waiting to defend his crown.
In the lead-up to his first title defense against Stephen Thompson, a bout that ended in a draw in the co-main event of UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, Woodley was called out by McGregor during the pre-fight press conference with the braggadocious Irishman saying he was in the UFC to collect “all the belts.”
“If he wants to fight, we can sign it right now,” Woodley said. “I’m good on that fight. I just don’t think it’s a good idea for him to fight me.”
Woodley made good on his first championship opportunity and knocked out now former welterweight titlist Robbie Lawler at the 2:48 mark of the first round in the main event bout of UFC 201 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 31.
After both fighters measured up their opponents in the early going, Woodley faked a left-handed punch and then, fired a sharp right hand that landed flush on the left side of Lawler’s face. The defending champion was clearly stunned and fell backward against the cage, which left open an opportunity to finish the fight.
Woodley did not waste a second, as he shot in and landed five straight punches with his right hand to Lawler’s face before the referee stepped in and called a stop to the championship bout.
Woodley landed eight of his 11 strikes (73 percent), and all of those were considered significant blows.
Then, in his first championship defense, Woodley originally was declared the winner by split decision. However, it was later announced that he would keep the championship, but the fight was scored a draw.
Woodley landed 113 of his 200 strikes in the bout, 61 of which were significant, while Thompson caught the welterweight champion with just 60 blows.
“I’m a professional at the end of the day, and it’s obvious that the majority of the crowd is here to see Conor McGregor,” Woodley said. “He’s built this mystique about himself that everybody wants to watch him fight and watch his antics, so it’s silly for me to try and go turn the crowd on my side when I know 99.9 percent of the people were here to watch Conor either win or lose.”
McGregor came to New York City looking to make history and become the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history, and that is exactly what he did.
Courtesy of a knockout of Eddie Alvarez in the main event on Saturday night, McGregor added the UFC lightweight championship to his trophy case, going along with the featherweight title he won last December.
While taking a right-handed punch from Alvarez, McGregor fired off a powerful left hand that landed on the side of the defending champion’s face. McGregor followed it up with a right hand to Alvarez’s jaw, a left to the ear and another right that eventually floored his opponent.
Once Alvarez was on the mat, McGregor landed two left-handed punches, and that forced referee “Big” John McCarthy to call a stop to the bout at the 1:52 mark of the second round.
“When you’ve got good timing and things like that, you can place good punches, but I’m 100 percent positive he’s never been hit with the shots I’ll hit him with,” Woodley said. “I just don’t think Conor understands the pressure I can put on him, the power I can put on him, and all the different attacks.
“I think it’s good for media, but in general. I don’t know how I can win. If I beat him, everybody’s going to say I’m supposed to beat him. He’s a former featherweight. If I lose to him, then obviously, we know what’s going to happen.”