Sean Woodson will return to the Octagon for the first time since October when he takes on Kyle Nelson at UFC Las Vegas on June 27. Woodson, a 6’2″ featherweight with a 79-inch reach, will hold an eight-inch reach advantage over his opponent.
While Woodson acknowledged Nelson is a “striker first,” he believes Nelson will try to wrestle him at some point.
“All these guys, no matter what their Plan A is, they’re all going to come and start wrestling,” Woodson told MMASucka. “I don’t know if [Nelson’s] thinking wrestling first, or wrestling Plan B. I just know when we get in there, he’ll start wrestling. It’ll start off with me touching him up, touching him up. And then fighting off some takedowns, wearing him out.”
Sean Woodson vs. Kyle Nelson
Woodson made good on his UFC debut by taking a unanimous decision off Kyle Bochniak; someone who went to war with Zabit Magomedsharipov. However, he feels Nelson will be his toughest test yet.
“He’s 13-3. That’s probably the guy with the best record I fought. On the Contender Series, the guy I fought (Terrance McKinney), he was 7-1, but that one loss was by freak accident. Really, he was undefeated. But I think Kyle probably will be the toughest opponent.”
Nelson notched his first UFC win by TKO’ing veteran Polo Reyes. He previously came up short against Diego Ferreira and Matt Sayles, though he also holds a regional KO win over Khama Worthy.
Woodson says he’s been improving fight-to-fight, and fans will see the best version of Sean Woodson to date against Nelson. He also feels he hasn’t shown the true extent of his skills yet.
“I’m always improving and always getting better,” he said. “Another big factor is, each fight, I’m showing more. I’ve had these fights where I feel like I’ve always shown 10 to 15 percent of my capabilities. Each fight, I feel like I’m showing more and more. Also, along with that, I am improving, too. It’s a mixture of I’m improving, but also at the same time, I’m also showing more of what I already have.”
The biggest strides Woodson has made are related to his ground game. Woodson splits time between his home gym in St. Louis, MO and Glory MMA & Fitness near Kansas City, MO. At the latter, he trains with fellow UFC fighters James Krause and Grant Dawson.
Following his win over McKinney on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, White expressed he wanted to see Woodson improve his ground game. While he may or may not submit Nelson, Woodson said his first UFC submission is “coming.”
“I can’t wait to get that first submission win in the UFC and look cage-side at Dana White, and say, ‘What’d you say about my ground game? You think it’s improved?,'” Woodson said with a laugh.
Woodson got the call to fight Nelson on 16 days’ notice. While the bout will be contested as a 150-lb. catchweight, Woodson said he would have preferred fighting at his usual 145.
“My weight’s been low. Even at 16 days’ notice, I could’ve made 145 for this. But my manager hit me up. He said, ‘Kyle Nelson. June 27. Catchweight at 150.’ And I assumed that’s on [Nelson’s] behalf; that he asked for this catchweight. It’s been so long since I fought, I didn’t want to be picky. I just wanted to take whatever they gave me. I can make the weight. If I had my way, this would be at 145. I’d have him cut that extra five pounds. I didn’t wanna come back and be like, ‘No, I want this at 145,’ and they’d just offer it to someone else to take it at 150. I just took what they gave me.”
Woodson says the fight will end with him getting his hand raised by any means necessary, though he feels he’ll secure a finish in the late second or early third.
“In all of his fights, [Nelson] likes to strike, he likes to strike,” Woodson said. “I guarantee you he’s coming to wrestle. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t come to wrestle early; like that’s not his Plan A. I see him tiring himself out from wrestling and trying to frantically get me to the ground where he feels safe and out of danger. He’s going to blow his wad trying to get me down, and then I’ll have plenty in the tank and take over from there.”
UFC Las Vegas will air on ESPN+, and features a pivotal lightweight match-up between Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker.
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