Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has made it clear he’s going to play hardball if the UFC wants him to fight Demian Maia next.
Maia appears to be the clear No.1 contender in the division after his decision win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 this past weekend took his winning streak to seven fights, but as far as Woodley’s concerned it’s not a fight he’s particularly interested in.
“It didn’t interest me, it didn’t make my adrenaline pump,” Woodley said on ‘The MMA Hour’ show. “To be honest, neither one of those guys interested me because they are trying to build their brand, I’m trying to build my brand up and I feel my brand is further than theirs is.”
That being said, he insists that he’s not trying to duck Maia due to a fear that he might become the submission specialist’s next victim.
“I think out of all the guys in the top 10, that are really threatening guys, whether they are knockout (artists) submission (specialists) or just their ability to be tough, I match up the best with him. I’ve fought that style so many times, trained against it. My last five fights have been against southpaws. I’ve seen it so many times.”
However, if Dana White stays true to his word when he told Maia on Saturday night that he would fight for the title next, then Woodley has indicated he’s going to be difficult to deal with.
“I’m going to be in Vegas for the Athlete’s Retreat deal coming up, so I’ll set up some meetings with Dana and the guys and I’ll what their plans are,” Woodley said. “But I’m not going to be easy to deal with, man; Demian Maia’s not a guy who’s going to push the needle.”
He then went on to add that, “I think champions in the past have been compensated for opponents that may not push the needle and they may not get the (pay-per-view) points you think you’re going to get, and a little extra fat was thrown on the top for them. So, me knowing that, I’m going to go in there and look for that myself.”
It’s not clear exactly what kind of numbers Woodley is hoping for, though he did say flat-out that if the UFC wanted to book a fight with Maia in his own home country of Brazil then, “do not come to me for less than seven figures to show.”
Meanwhile, in a seperate interview with ESPN, Woodley was talking up the possibility that he might end up fighting a bigger name important like Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz instead of Maia.
“I think those fights are way more real than you guys realize,” Woodley said. “I was teasing everyone for several weeks, but that wasn’t for giggles. Those are realistic options that could make Demian Maia take a back seat for a little bit.”
We’ve seen Woodley talk this way before when he was reluctant to fight Stephen Thompson, yet in the end that’s exactly who he did end up fighting anyway.
Woodley is still a long way short of being a PPV draw, so a lot of his demands are likely to fall on deaf ears, but with that being said, based on the way the UFC operates these days it’s not out of the realms of possibility that they’ll pull some kind of curve ball that will lead to Woodley fighting someone other than Maia next time out.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve promised a fighter a title shot and then suddenly opted to go in a completely different direction – just ask Miesha Tate or Alexander Gustafsson.