Opinion: Tyron Woodley is slowly becoming the most annoying UFC champion in history

He is due to rematch Stephen Thompson at UFC 209

Opinion: Tyron Woodley is slowly becoming the most annoying UFC champion in history

Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is slowly cementing his position as the most irritating champion in the promotion's history.  

When he spectacularly knocked-out Robbie Lawlor to win the welterweight title at UFC 201, he put the entire division on notice. Lawlor had been on a tear since 2014, winning five straight fights, including memorable wars and victories over Johnny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit.

When Woodley sparked him in the first round of their championship fight, it looked like the dawn of a new era in the division.

Almost immediately after winning the title, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson challenged Woodley on TV, only for Woodley to turn down the number one contender’s offer and instead start calling for a super-fight with George St. Pierre or Nick Diaz.

Given that Woodley had only just won the belt and doesn’t have a big fan base, the UFC eschewed that suggestion and scheduled a clash with Thompson in the co-main event on the historic card at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden.

The pair fought to a memorable draw there, and the obvious next step was a rematch.

Woodley again showed his disdain for Thompson by verbally agreeing a catchweight bout with middleweight champion Michael Bisping. The UFC had other plans, and Woodley is now scheduled to face Thompson again in the main event of UFC 209 in March.

The pair sat down recently to do an interview to promote their fight where Woodley fired shots at both the UFC and its fans. Woodley inferred that race was holding his promotion as champion back, and that flyweight champion and pound-for-pound number one, Demetrious Johnson, who he argued would similarly get better sponsorship deals and pay if it weren't for his race.

However, those accusations from Woodley don't tell the full story. To put some perspective on this issue, then bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz received $350,000 for his failed title defence after losing to Cody Garbrandt (who received $200,000) at UFC 207.

Johnson similarly received $350,000 for his win at the TUF Finale when he defended his flyweight title against Tim Elliott in December.

"Mighty Mouse" Johnson also previously held a lucrative sponsorship deal with Xbox before the new Reebok uniform policy was brought in, and the terms of that agreement have apparently been amended. 

Jon Jones, another high profile African-American in the sport, has had personal struggles which have proven to be the toughest hurdle for him to overcome in the course of his career, despite the clear potential he has to become one of the biggest stars in the sport. The former undisputed light-heavyweight champion is currently side-lined after being flagged by USADA prior to be pulled from the main event at UFC 200.

Woodley's statements in that interview, side-by-side with Thompson, only served to contribute to the problem. “Wonderboy” was there to promote their fight and build interest in the rematch, but instead it turned into a discussion on whether or not there was bias in the way UFC treated their fighters.

Woodley claims he wants to be a "legend", stating: "I fight for my family, I fight for God, I fight for my legacy. I don't fight for fame, I don't fight for money contrary to what people believe but I'm going out here and trying to be a legend. I'm trying to be the best welterweight that ever graced the octagon."

If that is the case, then Woodley should instead concentrate on building a real legacy at welterweight by bringing a conclusive ending to his rivalry with Thompson in his next fight, and then defend the belt against legitimate contenders, like Demian Maia, before indulging in his own delusions of grandeur. 

If Woodley is worthy of being treated like one of the organisation's best, the super-fights will present themselves. Until then, he has work to do.