It wasn’t that long ago that Tyron Woodley was the welterweight champion of the world and in the conversation for one of the best 170lbers to ever do it in the UFC.
After winning the belt from ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler with a stunning first-round knockout, ‘The Chosen One’ went on to successfully defend his title four times with wins over Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, Demian Maia and Darren Till.
Then he came up against Kamaru Usman and Woodley’s whole demeanour changed once he entered the octagon.
He was dominated for 25 minutes by the man he’d spoken down on during the build up to the fight, out-wrestled, out-struck and out-worked en route to a unanimous decision defeat with two judges handing the challenger a 10-8 round too.
He then tried to bounce back from that defeat by getting in the octagon with Usman’s training partner Gilbert Burns a little over a year later. Once again though Woodley was out-worked, out-wrestled and out-struck by his opponent and beaten via the exact same scorecards for another unanimous decision.
He then tried to save his legacy as one of the best welterweights ever when he matched up against Colby Covington last September at UFC Vegas 11. He made it 15 rounds in a row of pure domination when he was beaten to a pulp by Covington and forced to verbally submit after breaking a rib when being taken down.
Since his last title fight, Woodley has been out-struck 724-192 in total strikes and also been taken down seven times in three fights. With the UFC not shy of cutting big names recently and with his 39th birthday just a little over a week after fight night, Woodley’s career is most definitely now on the chopping block.
He’ll take on another of Usman’s teammates in Vicente Luque, in a match-up that looks less than ideal for him on the evidence of his most recent fights.
Luque is a pressure fighter with an excellent chin, lots of volume and dynamite in his hands. If there is anything that Woodley doesn’t want right now, it’s someone walking him down looking to take his head off while he backs up against the cage and hesitates to throw his own hands.
But there is more to this fight than Woodley just looking to get back in the win column, his career is hanging in the balance.
A loss will almost certainly see him cut from the company after four consecutive defeats, with Luque more likely than not to get a finish than the other three were. He is battling for his career after already tarnishing his legacy as one of the greats, so a show stopping performance is needed now more than ever.