This past Saturday night at UFC 214, Tyron Woodley defended his welterweight title against top contender Demian Maia. Woodley imposed his game-plan and halted Maia’s; defending twenty-four takedown attempts en route to a unanimous decision victory. In a fight that left many expecting more action, one of the voices that expressed his displeasure was UFC President Dana White.
UFC 214 Post-Fight Press Conference
After the conclusion of UFC 214, Woodley met with the media for the traditional post-fight press conference. It wasn’t long before the question pertaining to the future bout with Georges St-Pierre came forth. Woodley did not appear enthusiastic about the topic nor did he make an effort to advocate for his opportunity to fight GSP.
The champ was unapologetic for his performance against Maia; which drew criticism. Citing bouts against Robbie Lawler, Stephen Thompson twice, and now former middleweight title contender Demian Maia, “The Chosen One” explained that he is a dominant champion. Woodley would then go on to express how he is fighting the contenders of his division where UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping has not.
“How long is he [Bisping] going to milk that knee injury?” asked Woodley. Bisping last defended his title against then-ranked #14 contender Dan Henderson in a rematch of their UFC 100 bout. This match drew significant backlash from fans and critics as Henderson was not a top contender at the time. Bisping has been linked to a bout against the returning St-Pierre for some time.
Woodley did not mince words to how he felt about former UFC Welterweight Champion St-Pierre either. “He doesn’t want to fight me because I’m a better version of him,” said Woodley. Much like St-Pierre, Woodley has dominated his opponents by stifling their game plans and imposing his will. One could even go as far as to say they are not too different.
Drawing Parallels from UFC 111: St-Pierre vs. Hardy
In retrospect, the tenures as welterweight champion are growing similar between St-Pierre and Woodley. Even a dominant champion such as St-Pierre drew criticism for his performances against Dan Hardy, Jake Shields, and Josh Koscheck. At UFC 111, St-Pierre struggled to submit an inferior grappler in Hardy; eventually winning a dominant, yet uneventful unanimous decision. However, what separates GSP from Woodley is how Dana White reacted afterward.
In a UFC 111 post-event interview, MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani spoke to Dana White about his impression of St-Pierre’s performance against challenger Dan Hardy. White’s response was far different from the one he gave at the UFC 214 post-fight press conference:
“Listen, every fight you have isn’t going to be the most exciting fight in the world…I’m not going to sit here and smash the kid, it was a dominant a performance, he wanted to do better, I wanted better, but Dan Hardy came to fight, he’s a tough kid with a lot more game than people realize”.
Now, over 100 UFC PPV’s later, White attitude toward’s Woodley is far different than that of GSP’s in a similar scenario. The UFC 111 and 214 comparisons are significant because White did not exactly defend St-Pierre’s performance, but he didn’t say anything overly critical. Objectively, St-Pierre was the bigger star at the time so it makes sense as to why White wouldn’t be too overly critical. GSP hasn’t always been free from harsh words from Dana White. UFC 167 post fight press conference, anyone?
Conversely, White did not hold back his feelings about the Woodley-Maia bout at the post-fight press conference. “Who wants to pay to see Tyron Woodley fight again?” stated White. Quite the powerful statement coming from the president of the company.
What purpose could it possibly serve to devalue your own champion who has been as versatile and active as Tyron Woodley? Especially during a time when the UFC desperately needs stars.
Dana White Flip-Flopping on Tyron Woodley, Georges St-Pierre Match
At the UFC 214 post-fight press conference, reporters informed Woodley of a new development. Moments prior, Dana White told BT Sports that Michael Bisping was set to fight the returning Georges St-Pierre. Apart from breaking his usual tradition of not matchmaking after events, White quickly went back on his word that he expressed just mere days prior and announced a match that he vehemently said would not happen.
BREAKING: @danawhite confirms to BT Sport that Georges St Pierre will fight Michael Bisping!
“It’s 100% on!” #ufc214
— #UFC214 (@btsportufc) July 30, 2017
Three days prior, Dana White added to his continued narrative of how the “ship has sailed” for Bisping-GSP. Woodley was not so sure as he felt GSP would not agree to fight him. White would then affirm his stance that GSP would fight the winner of the welterweight championship.
“That is the plan as of right now. Whoever win’s this fight, fight’s GSP but GSP’s people are here to speak to me but that is the plan as of right now. said Dana White. Woodley would respond thereafter by expressing how St-Pierre does not want to fight him. “The Bisping ship has sailed. It’s gone. If you win on Saturday it’s going to be you, pal” added White.
A Dangerous Trend Continuing
This narrative of Dana White’s tense relationship with UFC Champions Woodley, Jon Jones, and Demetrious Johnson appears to be growing. Despite seemingly making up at the UFC 214 Ceremonial Weigh-Ins, Jones had strong words for White just a few days prior. According to MMAFighting.com, Jones explained how he felt abandoned by White. “I feel like he’s shown me his true colors, and now I have no desire to pretend like he cares about me or that we’re friends,” explained Jones.
Long-time UFC Flyweight kingpin Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson expressed his own displeasure with Dana White and the UFC not too long ago. In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Johnson did not mince words how he was being treated within the company:
“Unfortunately, UFC’s mistreatment and bullying has finally forced me to speak out,” expressed Johnson. “I’ve decided to speak out now as I feel like my values and character as a person and a fighter are being tarnished by an organization I’ve done nothing but sweat and bleed for over the last seven years of my life”.
UFC, Dana White Undervaluing Tyron Woodley
As the UFC Welterweight Champion, Woodley has been vocal but he has also been productive. Fighting four championship bouts in twelve months, Woodley has established himself as a dominant champion. Despite lackluster matchups such as Maia and Thompson II, Woodley has produced exciting fights. Outside of the octagon, Woodley has been active for the company; appearing consistently on Fox Sports television broadcasts.
For Woodley, being promised the GSP bout upon victory only to be denied and scorned by White is a tough pill to swallow. After publicly saying how Woodley is not worthy of a pay-per-view purchase shortly after taking away a financially lucrative bout, it will be interesting to see how this relationship develops (or deteriorates) in the time to come.
The UFC has seen big names such as Rory MacDonald and Gegard Mousasi take their talents elsewhere; if Woodley isn’t feeling the love, don’t be surprised to see him leave the company one day.