Nate Diaz scared of Tyron Woodley? No, coach says UFC just needs to pay what's right

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To hear UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley tell it, the reason Nate Diaz won’t fight him at UFC 219 is fear.

“I’m fired up about people that tell you, ‘Don’t be scared, homie.’ And then they’re scared, homie! That’s what I’m fired up about,” Woodley this week told TMZ.

Is it really that simple, though? No, says Diaz boxing coach Richard Perez.

“I saw Woodley talking the other day about Nathan being scared – ‘scared, homie.’ But it’s not that,” Perez told Submission Radio. “It’s not all about that, because Nathan ain’t scared to fight nobody. It’s the money, and Dana White and the UFC don’t want to pay him. But he deserves it.”

Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) hasn’t fought in 15 months, but the last time he did fight he set the UFC pay-per-view buys record with Conor McGregor at an estimated 1.65 million. The two staged a classic that August 2016 night at UFC 202, with McGregor edging out Diaz for a majority decision in their rematch. Diaz won their first bout by submission five months earlier at UFC 196, which elevated his stardom to new levels.

None of this is lost on Diaz, either. He’s played hard ball this year when it comes to a potential octagon return, stating he’d need $20 million for a McGregor trilogy while also declining an interim lightweight title fight offer with Tony Ferguson.

That appears to be the case again with talks of a potential title showdown vs. Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) gaining steam. Woodley certainly wants it, because he’s spent much of 2017 angling for “money fights.”

While Perez said he didn’t know what number Diaz gave the UFC to get him back in the octagon, Perez offered what he believes to be Diaz’s worth.

“15 million (dollars) easy – easy,” Perez said. “Because, I mean, he’s a star right now. I mean, McGregor can’t even fight right now; he got suspended. And Woodley’s trying to fight everybody. He says McGregor doesn’t want to fight him, he says B.J. Penn (sic) doesn’t want to fight him. He’s naming all these people that don’t want to fight him, because he’s trying to get his name (out there). He’s trying to get up there, and nobody wants to (fight him). I mean, he’s got the belt. So what? The belt don’t mean nothing no more. It’s about who you’re fighting to make the money.”

And when it comes to money, Perez is honest about who Diaz would fight to earn the most.

“Everybody wants to see McGregor and Nathan,” he said. “Woodley is out of the picture. I mean, he’s just blubbering now and talking because he wants to get noticed. He wants to be up there on top, too. I don’t blame him. That’s normal for a fighter, because he has the belt. He thinks the belt’s important; it’s not right now. It’s about who you’re fighting. That’s why he’s trying to get Nathan. He’s trying to get McGregor. But what everybody wants to really see is McGregor and Nathan. That’s all I ever hear.

“People texting me all the time. They call me all the time. It’s still constantly, ‘When are they fighting? That’s all we want to see.’ That’s the fight. That’s the best fight to watch right now. The last two fights were great, so the third one has to finish. We have to find out the outcome of that one. So that’s where it should be at now.”

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Shanghai headliner Kelvin Gastelum talks 'badass' Bisping – and why he wants a Woodley rematch

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SHANGHAI – A couple weeks back, Kelvin Gastelum was sick to his stomach over the thought of what might happen to his third straight UFC main event with his opponent out.

Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) didn’t just have any opponent for UFC Fight Night 122. He had former longtime middleweight champ and onetime pound-for-pound legend Anderson Silva, regarded by many to be the greatest in history. But when Silva got flagged for a potential doping violation, Gastelum wondered if his fight would be off.

And if he’s just being honest, he even wondered if the entire card would survive for the promotion’s debut in mainstream China without a name the caliber of Silva’s.

But then Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) came to the rescue. Just a week after losing his middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre in the UFC 217 main event, Bisping wanted to get the bad taste out of his mouth and take advantage of the chance for another payday while he was still (mostly) in fight shape.

Now Gastelum vs. Bisping headlines UFC Fight Night 122 in a middleweight bout Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

“I didn’t want to go from fighting the greatest of all time to just fighting Joe Schmoe – that just wouldn’t make sense for me, for my career,” Gastelum told MMAjunkie today in Shanghai. “I want to keep making steps forward, not making steps backward. … I was really happy we got a replacement. I was really happy that Mike stepped up – how badass is he? I feel this is actually an even bigger fight for my career.”

The fight is bigger, Gastelum thinks, because Bisping just was the champion a few weeks ago, unlike Silva, whose best days appear to be several years in the rearview mirror.

The fight against Silva was to be just the latest in a string of standouts Gastelum has stepped into the ocatagon with. And now Bisping is his latest ex-champion opponent.

Consider Gastelum’s previous seven fights: a split-decision loss to current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley at UFC 183; a TKO of former Strikeforce middleweight champ Nate Marquardt at UFC 188; a decision win over former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks at 170 pounds at UFC 200; a TKO of former light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort in March (later flipped to a no-contest when Gastelum tested positive for marijuana); and in July, a submission loss to former middleweight champ Chris Weidman in the UFC on FOX 25 main event.

So while all the talk has been on just how legendary a move Bisping made by taking the short-notice fight with Gastelum, who is a 3-1 favorite, Gastelum thinks maybe he ought to get a little love, too.

“It doesn’t matter to me, but it would be cool if I got a little bit of credit, too, for stepping up and accepting the fight,” he said. “This will be my third or fourth former champion that I’ve fought in the last 12 months. I don’t think people have been giving me credit for the fights I’ve been taking in the last 12 months. This will be my third main event in a row. (But) I’m just riding the wave.”

Prior to the loss to Weidman, Gastelum had been on a serious roll with the wins over Hendricks, Kennedy and Belfort. The submission loss to Weidman was the first time he had been stopped, and it obviously left a bad taste in his mouth.

That gave him the motivation to get back in the win column against another former champion, first Silva and now Bisping. But if Gastelum is just being honest, there’s another loss that hurts him even more.

More than anything, he seems to want another shot at Woodley. When they fought at UFC 183, it was at welterweight, the division in which Gastelum infamously had trouble hitting the limit. That forced the move up to middleweight, where he’s now been for three fights.

Against Woodley, he came in at 180 pounds – nine pounds over the non-title 171-pound limit.

“I’m a little bit salty on the Tyron Woodley fight,” Gastelum said. “I’m a little hurt, still, after all these years. I want that rematch. I know I can beat him. And I know I can make the weight. I was immature, I was young, and stupid, and I feel I’ve grown from all those experiences. There’s been a lot of trial and error in my career. When I fought him, I was 23 years old. Finally, we’re putting all the experiences togehter, the good, the bad, and making something that actually works.”

That’s why Gastelum hopes – even if he has to admit it might be a long shot – he might be able to get a title shot at welterweight against Woodley. Fighting him at a catchweight or with Woodley moving up to middleweight without the title on the line wouldn’t be worth it.

“I’ve got to be up there in those discussions (with a win), whether I fight for the middleweight title or the welterweight title,” Gastelum said. “I’ve always had my eyes set on that welterweight title and a rematch with Tyron. (But) if I win this fight, I might have permanently cemented myself as a middleweight whether I want it or not.

“… It has to be for the title, and now that he’s the champion, I want to take it from him. But let me just say I respect Tyron. As a person, as a fighter, I respect him. It’s just (the loss) doesn’t sit (with me) well.”

For more from Gastelum, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: On McGregor's 'punishment,' Bisping's quick turnaround, and more

Did the UFC settle on an appropriate punishment for Conor McGregor’s Bellator run-in? And is Michael Bisping really fit to fight again so soon after his loss at UFC 217? And, honestly, who throws a boomerang at somebody?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

First of all, there’s nothing about either Dana White or Ariel Helwani that screams, “I love camping.” Second, I have some questions about the Dec. 30 bout that Conor McGregor was supposedly secretly booked in before he got pulled as punishment for his antics in Dublin.

For starters, this incident at Bellator 187 happened on Nov. 10. That’s about seven weeks prior to UFC 219, and we’d heard not even the slightest rumbling about a McGregor fight being booked.

Nothing on social media from McGregor or his camp. Nothing from Tony Ferguson or any other likely next opponent. Nothing from the UFC, which is weird because you’d think this would be the kind of thing the company would want to get out there and promote. The rest of the card is mostly set, so much so that it’s already suffered a major injury withdrawal.

Plus, with its year-end events, the UFC usually announces headliners far in advance. Remember when Brock Lesnar fought Alistair Overeem? Announced in September. Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey? Announced in October. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva? Announced in July.

You’re telling me that when it comes to the biggest star in the sport, you sit on the news of his next fight until we’re less than two months out?

That makes you think that either the plan to have McGregor headline UFC 219 was in very preliminary stages, or else it didn’t exist.

Even if it did exist, so what? The punishment for a more egregious version of the same transgression that’s gotten other UFC fighters fired is that McGregor’s next fight gets … slightly delayed? In what way is that a punishment for the guy who’s a few months removed from a monster boxing payday?

The whole thing smacks of wolf tickets, as Nick Diaz might say. And as his brother might say, I’m not surprised.

Depends. In this alternate reality, are fans more interested in rankings, or will they still drop everything and reach for their credit cards when the next “money fight” rolls around?

If we’re upset with the current matchmaking trends, we can’t blame promoters. They have no ideals to abandon. They’re just chasing our dollars and following wherever it leads. If we really wanted a world where No. 1 always fights No. 2 – even if we’ve already seen it, and even if it wasn’t much fun the last time – then promoters would give it to us. But apparently we don’t want that reality, because we keep paying for the other one.

It’s always a questionable move to fight twice in three weeks, especially when you’re in your late 30s and you’ve taken a lot of punishment over the years, which Michael Bisping certainly has.

The choke doesn’t worry me. It was a blood choke, released right away once Bisping was out, so I wouldn’t worry about lasting damage.

But according to the Fightmetric stats, GSP landed 41 significant strikes to Bisping’s head in that fight, including the hard left that dropped him at the end. Add to that all the blows he likely took in training, plus the blows he may very well have to take against Kelvin Gastelum in either victory or defeat, and you have an awful lot of brain-jostling in a short period of time.

Bisping should be concerned about that, but so should the UFC. I suspect that in the not-too distant future some brain trauma chickens are going to come home to roost for MMA, in much the same way they have in other sports. If and when that happens, the UFC could face some tough questions about its decision to give a 38-year-old man two fights in three weeks – especially when it’s acting as its own regulator for the second one.

As of this writing, a welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Nate Diaz is still just a rumor. Hopefully it stays that way. There’s so much interesting stuff going on at welterweight that it makes no sense to reach for Diaz, whose last win at welterweight came against a lightweight.

Diaz has barely fought in the division in the last six years, and the only reason for him to do so now would be to inject some of that Diaz flair into the welterweight title picture. Not a fan.

A whole different energy, for one. It seems obvious, but everything seems bigger and louder and more urgent in the arena. Even little stuff like the walkout music, which you hear as background noise on the TV broadcasts (if it’s broadcast at all), becomes an assault on the senses when you’re there live. That carries over into those big, fight-ending moments. You get sucked into the experience more fully inside the arena.

Also, especially since you’re going to a UFC “Fight Night” event? You can use the delays between fights to hit up the beer and hot dog vendor. Instead of, you know, getting forcibly thrown back to the studio in between FarmersOnly.com commercials.

Until I see with my own eyes a person in boxing gloves throwing a punch at another person with boxing gloves at a Zuffa-promoted event, I will regard any talk of the UFC getting into boxing as pure Just Saying Stuff™. It’s the simplest possible explanation at this point.

What Bellator is onto is this: Its biggest names are all fighters who used to be somebody, and that only gets you so far one matchup at a time. But throwing them all together for a tournament that is almost guaranteed to get weird is a way of leveraging their collective drawing power, as well as appealing to the disaster-loving rubberneck impulse of MMA fans in general.

And, honestly, it’s probably going to work. We’re going to watch this thing. At least for as long as it lasts.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Oddsmakers like Tyron Woodley over Nate Diaz if fight happens

So here we are talking about Nate Diaz maybe, actually, potentially making a return to the octagon, and it involves him fighting for a UFC title, but not against lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

Wait, what?

Indeed, Diaz strength and conditioning coach Jose Garcia sent folks into a tizzy Tuesday on social media when he posted – and then quickly deleted – an update on Instagram suggesting Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) has begun training camp for a fight. On Wednesday, we found out thanks to ESPN.com that the UFC has looked into possibly booking Diaz in a title fight against Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC), an idea the welterweight champion welcomes.

You know that’s all it takes for the oddsmakers to get going as online sports book Bovada has opened the following line:

Tyron Woodley vs. Nate Diaz
Tyron Woodley -260 (5/13)
Nate Diaz +200 (2/1)

Translation: If a fight does come to fruition, Woodley is a sizeable favorite, requiring a $260 bet to win $100.

This probably makes sense. Diaz would have a considerable height advantage (6-foot to 5-9) and a reach advantage (77 inches to 74), but he hasn’t fought in 15 months, when he dropped a majority decision in a rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 202.

Woodley, meanwhile, has gone six straight bouts without a loss since August 2014, with two successful title defenses to his credit against Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia.

Are you feeling this potential matchup? Vote in our poll below.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Take Our Poll
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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Tyron Woodley: I'll fight Nate Diaz at UFC 219 if he wants to fight me

With a little over six weeks to go until UFC 219, the UFC remains in need of a headliner for its year-end pay-per-view event in Las Vegas.

Could Tyron Woodley vs. Nate Diaz be it?

BJPenn.com first reported Tuesday that Diaz started training camp for a fight. On Wednesday, ESPN.com reported that the UFC has looked into the possibility of booking a welterweight title fight between champ Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC).

According to ESPN, Woodley’s original plan following his most recent title defense against Demian Maia in July was to take off the rest of 2017 to nurse a shoulder injury. But it seems he’s willing to make an exception for a showdown with Diaz.

“If Nate wants to go (at) UFC 219, I’m ready,” Woodley said.

Woodley has defended his belt twice this year, first winning a majority decision in a rematch with Stephen Thompson at UFC 209 and then taking a unanimous decision from Maia in a lackluster affair at UFC 214. Woodley has campaigned recently for “money” fights, which a bout with Diaz would constitute.

Diaz’s future has remained uncertain while he’s seemingly held out for a third fight with lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Diaz submitted McGregor in their first fight last year at UFC 196 but lost the rematch via majority decision at UFC 202 and hasn’t fought in nearly 15 months since.

In the way of a potential trilogy is interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, who could be next in line for McGregor to unify the title. Diaz was offered an interim title fight with Ferguson earlier this year but backed out after initially accepting. Diaz has claimed it would take a huge amount of money to get him back in the octagon.

Could a shot at Woodley’s title entice him?

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Take Our Poll
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Source: MMA Junkie

Colby Covington says he already broke Tyron Woodley, wants UFC title shot in St. Louis

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Colby Covington continues to go full heel in pursuit of UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

In an interview posted to Impact Wrestling’s YouTube page, Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) reiterated his belief that he’s the rightful No. 1 contender to challenge Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and urged the champion to accept.

“Man, the guy’s making all these excuses,” Covington said. “He doesn’t want to tell the world the real reason he doesn’t want to fight me. The real reason Tyron Woodley doesn’t want to fight me is because the last time we were in the gym together I broke him. And I’ll do the same thing in front of the world when we fight for that welterweight championship, Tyron Woodley.”

After an impressive comeback win over Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo, Covington picked up his fifth straight win to become No. 3 in the official rankings. But it was his celebration speech that got fans buzzing when he called the Brazilian audience “filthy animals” and was pelted with debris as a result.

Since then, Covington not only has embraced being the bad guy, but he seems to relish the role, hoping it will help earn him a title shot with Woodley.

Covington is even willing to travel to Woodley’s hometown to make it happen. He implored the champ to fight him Jan. 14 at UFC Fight Night 124 in Woodley’s native St. Louis.

“Let’s see if he can defend the home turf,” Covington said. “I’m the money fight for you, Tyron Woodley. You already fought No. 1 and No. 2. I’m next in line. Stop making excuses.”

Woodley, for his part, already has expressed his disapproval of Covington getting a title shot. He cited what he deemed Covington’s lackluster performance in his decision win over Maia – who Woodley also defeated by decision – as well as not wanting to reward Covington for his antics.

That might not sit well with Covington. But it also doesn’t deter him.

“Everybody says I’m a racist, but I’m a realist. I’m saying the truth,” Covington said. “Everything I’m saying is truth, and what I’m saying is, Tyron Woodley, you’re next. I’m going to finish you, just like I did to Demian Maia. You couldn’t beat Demian Maia as bad as I beat Demian Maia. You are next, Tyron Woodley.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Stephen Thompson ready to talk trash? 'People would just tell me to shut up'

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NEW YORK – Former UFC challenge Stephen Thompson is willing to fight his way to another title shot – because he knows he can’t talk his way into one.

“I am who I am,” Thompson said. “If I start talking trash now, then people would just tell me to shut up. ‘Stephen, we know that’s not you.’ You know what I mean?”

Thompson (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) was discussing his options after a hard-fought but clear-cut unanimous-decision victory over fellow welterweight Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC 217 pay-per-view min card at Madison Square Garden in New York.

It was Thompson’s first fight since recovering from a knee injury following two fights (a majority draw and a majority-decision loss) to champ Tyron Woodley.

Now, Thompson, who entered UFC 217 in the No. 2 spot in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, is just looking for opponents who can help him prove to UFC matchmakers that he deserves a third shot at the belt.

“Of course, coming out here with a knockout would’ve been awesome,” he said backstage at UFC 217. “But it didn’t happen. I knew it was going to be tough.”

He thanks Masvidal both for a tough challenge and “Gamebread’s” ability to sell the fight. After all, trash-talk isn’t Thompson’s thing.

“If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have this fight here, right now,” said Thompson, who credited Masvidal’s social-media callout for getting the fight booked.

As for what’s next, Thompson said he’ll happily fight the winner or the loser of UFC on FOX 26’s upcoming headliner between former champs Robbie Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Rafael dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC). He also knows there’s a whole mess of up-and-coming 170-pounders – Mike Perry, Darren Till and Colby Covington, for example – who could present tough fights.

But right now, No. 3-ranked Lawler and No. 11 dos Anjos are his first choices.

“Like I said, man, my eyes are forward, and I’m not giving up that title,” Thompson said.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Colby Covington: I'm the No. 1 contender to 'ass-kisser' Tyron Woodley

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Surging UFC welterweight Colby Covington has a time in mind for the title shot he’s convinced is around the corner.

Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) believes he’s the rightful No. 1 contender for the welterweight title held by Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC), and he’s targeting early 2018 to take the belt.

“You cannot argue (ex-lightweight champ and current welterweight Rafael dos Anjos) is ahead of me when he’s lost to two bums on losing streaks,” Covington said on Chael Sonnen’s “You’re Welcome” podcast. “He beat Saffiedine on a three-fight losing streak, and he beat Neil Magny on a two-fight losing streak. So you can’t consider that bum, has-been, juicer ahead of me.

“And (Robbie) Lawler was knocked out in under 2 minutes against Woodley, so he doesn’t really have an argument to be ahead of me. Frankly, he knows he doesn’t want any part of me in the octagon. So I think I am the No. 1 contender, and me and ass-kisser Tyron Woodley need to get it on first quarter of next year in St. Louis.”

After an impressive comeback win over Demian Maia (25-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) last week at UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo, Covington picked up his fifth straight win. But it was his celebration speech that got UFC fans buzzing when he insulted the Brazilian audience and was pelted with debris.

In the wake of his speech, which some critics said was racist, the UFC announced Covington’s behavior is under review. That doesn’t draw much of a reaction from the 29-year-old fighter, though.

“It’s not a big deal,” Covington said. “When you’re a bad guy, whatever. Throw suspensions at me, whatever it wants to do. I’m the bad buy now.”

Apparently, that moniker has now been applied to his longtime gym, American Top Team. Several Brazilian ATT fighters denounced his behavior. ATT co-founder Ricardo Liborio denounced Covington’s language and implied his departure was related to the incident.

“Liborio is a fake,” Covington replied. “The guy’s trying to ride my coattails and use my stardom from the weekend to put himself over and make himself look like a good guy since I’m the most hated guy in Brazil right now. It’s a complete joke.”

What isn’t a joke to Covington is the attention he’s garnered by going full heel or, perhaps more accurately, going full heel at the right time and for the right audience. He is no stranger to controversial quotes, but now he is the target of a whole country.

In other words, job well done for a guy trying to get people to care.

“It was probably one of the greater weekends of my life to completely piss off a whole country and have them, with their third-world country, throwing their $5 hotdogs and $10 at me,” Covington said. “That was amazing. What more reaction do you want out of a performance than that? I’m a man of my word. I said I was going to retire Demian Maia, and I’m saying I’m going to retire Tyron Woodley.”

Now, he just has to convince Woodley to take the fight – or force the UFC’s hand. Woodley is eyeing the winner of Saturday’s middleweight title fight between champ Michael Bisping and ex-welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre. But he is now responding to Covington after dismissing him.

If you’re Covington, that’s a promising start to getting a signature on the dotted line.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC 217's Jorge Masvidal: Post-fight stupidity might be needed to earn title shot

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NEW YORK – Jorge Masvidal is not very pleased with the direction the sport has gone in terms of earning UFC title shots. However, he knows he might just have to play into the trend in order to get one in the welterweight division.

Masvidal (32-12 MMA, 9-5 UFC), who meets Stephen Thompson (13-2-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) on Saturday at UFC 217, has been circling a title shot for the past few fights. He could have solidified one with a victory over Demian Maia earlier this year, but ultimately came up short in the fight.

Now Masvidal, 32, is back in position to potentially set up a bout with champ Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC). Thompson is coming off two failed bids against Woodley, and if Masvidal can beat him he thinks it would be enough to validate a crack at the gold. However, given the state of the sport, he knows something extra is probably needed.

“You know what’s more important than winning is the post-fight speech,” Masvidal told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 217 media event. “That’s what goes viral. If I do something pretty stupid, then yeah, I’ll probably get the title shot. I don’t know if I need to jump over the cage and get in somebody’s face or do like that (expletive) (Michael) Bisping and spit on people’s corner. I don’t know what I’m going to do have to do, but it’s going to have to be something of retardedness.

“That’s the age that we live in. It’s reality TV and Kim Kardashian and them have brainwashed people into thinking that’s what life is about: the more wretchedness, the more you get seen and stuff. So if I do something stupid after the fight, no matter how boring the fight might have been, I’ll get a title shot.”

UFC 217 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Masvidal vs. Thompson airs on the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Potential post-fight antics aside, Masvidal, No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, said he’s largely looking forward to the matchup with No. 2-ranked Thompson. He does have some reservations, though, and that’s about how his opponent will approach things once in the octagon.

Thompson’s second title fight with Woodley at UFC 209 earned nearly unanimous criticism as one of the more underwhelming contests of the year. Masvidal knows he could be in for a frustrating night if Thompson doesn’t engage, but he said he’s mentally prepared to deal with that and implement his gameplan.

“Hopefully he doesn’t come on his bicycle and just (expletive) not fight,” Masvidal said. “I’m going to look to break his face like I always do. I just want to fight. He wants to dance and (expletive), that’s different. I want to fight. Hopefully he came with the same mindset, to fight.

“I’m going to deliver. I’m not worried about what he’s going to do at the end of the day. It will just give more action to the fans if he does fight. But whether he fights or not, it’s not going to be his night.”

Masvidal hopes to put on a type of performance which will prove a title shot is necessary without going outside of his character with some “retardedness.” Whether he will deliver, though, remains to be seen.

“I’m No. 1 after this fight,” Masvidal said. “When I took this fight he was No. 1 in the division. Me beating him puts me as No. 1, by a lot. He went 10 rounds with the champion, both fights were extremely close, so it’s a no-brainer I think.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Tyron Woodley isn't amused by Colby Covington's schtick, but is he missing a golden opportunity?

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Tyron Woodley is not amused.

While the UFC was trying to get a headstart on some Colby Covington hype this weekend, the UFC welterweight champion fired back in apparent disgust.

It seems Covington’s unanimous-decision win over Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119 and all the questionable vitriol that went with it was no laughing matter to Woodley, even if it was a joke.

In one sense, you can see where he’s coming from. Woodley’s the champion of the division with two consecutive title defenses to his credit, while Covington is out here doing an off-brand Chael Sonnen routine to rile up the Sao Paolo crowd and force his name into the headlines.

At the very least, it’s obnoxious. It’s the dumbest line between two points, all the more maddening because it’s so obvious yet effective.

Woodley wasn’t having it, which is unfortunate, because in a lot of ways he could really use a guy like Covington.

Consider the current plight of the UFC welterweight champion. In the 15 months since taking the title via first-round knockout from longtime priest of violence Robbie Lawler, Woodley has put the belt up for grabs three times.

The first and most memorable bout was the majority draw against Stephen Thompson at UFC 205. The other two – a rematch with Thompson at UFC 209 and, most recently, a clash with Maia at UFC 214 – are now officially classified as sleep aids by the FDA.

Point is, nobody in the UFC offices hears the cash register noise when the phrase “Tyron Woodley pay-per-view” gets tossed around in meetings. Even among the hardest of hardcore fans, you don’t get the sense anyone is waking up in the morning asking themselves when their wish for another Woodley fight will finally be granted.

Then along comes a guy like Covington, talking a big game while following a predictable but proven blueprint. He has his sights set on Woodley, and he has some cringe-inducing trash talk he hopes will help him get there. The end result is that he’s now hated by two types of people: the ones who bought the schtick and the ones who didn’t. Both want to see him get pummeled, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Then there’s Woodley, who seems pretty capable of doing the pummeling. The Covington who went lunging after Maia on Saturday night would likely be in for a quick night against a heavy-hitting wrestler like Woodley. You’re not going to smother the champ against the fence. You’re not going to chase after him, peppering him with off-balance punches, either.

Woodley catches a lot of grief for being overly, uh, let’s say patient, at times, but he’s still an exciting fighter when he wants to be – or when he’s forced to be.

So why does he seem revolted even by the thought of facing someone like Covington? Judging by his remarks on social media during and after the fight, seems like Woodley regards the whole thing as unserious, undignified, maybe even a little pathetic. It’s not too hard to see his point.

All these exciting welterweights, from Lawler to Rafael dos Anjos to upstarts like Mike Perry, Darren Till, Kamaru Usman, and Santiago Ponzinibbio, and here we are talking about the guy who acts like he’s auditioning for the role of ‘80s movie wrestling team bully? It’s got to be a little disheartening for the champ.

Then again, you also get the sense that maybe Woodley is so focused on how things ought to be that he doesn’t see how they are. Covington’s routine? It’s succeeded in getting him noticed. It’s succeeded even in getting him physically threatened by members of his own team, which is no small feat.

For a fighter in a crowded welterweight field, indifference is the enemy. And even if some people are rolling their eyes at Covington’s gimmick, those same people would probably delight at seeing him get punched in the mouth.

But for someone like Woodley, who struggled for years to get to the top of the heap, isn’t that all just a little too sad? He’s got the gold belt that says he’s the best in the world, and now what we want him to do is defend it against the guy who talks the loudest? Is that really where we want this sport to go? Worse yet, is it where we already are?

Then again, Woodley’s tried it his way, focusing on the fights and mostly eschewing the trash talk. He wants to see contenders prove themselves, wants opponents to “respectfully” earn a title shot. It’s like he wants some version of the sport that doesn’t exist anymore and maybe never really did.

If Woodley wants to be a hero, he could do a lot worse than to accept a ready-made villain. The fact that it seems so distasteful to him is understandable. It’s just hard not to wish he had a better idea to offer instead, and preferably one that’s at least a little bit fun.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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