Sean Woodson on ‘Pressure’ of Fighting Alex Caceres in St. Louis: ‘It Was So Cool’

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Sean Woodson (12-1-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) emerged victorious in his backyard of St. Louis on May 11, defeating Alex Caceres (21-15, 1 NC MMA, 16-13, 1 NC UFC) via unanimous decision.

Woodson was coming off a split decision over Charles Jourdain in Canada when it came time for his turn in front of his hometown fans.

“It was so cool,” Woodson told MMASucka about fighting in St. Louis. “My fight before, I was on the attack in enemy territory. This fight, I was defending home soil. I was super happy about that. I was super nervous leading up to it. Walking out, it was the most nervous I’ve ever felt heading to the cage. I’m proud of myself for staying composed, not freaking all the way the f— out. Still managing to get the job done under all that pressure.”

The crowd, roaring chants of “S-T-L!,” gave Woodson a boost from the get-go, he said.

“As soon as I walked out, I started feeling the love and energy,” he said. “It was definitely helping me navigate through the nerves and getting my mind right, for sure.”

Woodson graded his performance against Caceres a C+.

“Because the guy’s far, far more experienced than me and has been in there with the elite, elite, elite of the division,” Woodson said. “I know how nervous I was and how that was affecting me, being in my hometown. I had a bad weight cut this go around. The last two have been pretty bad and harder than others. Alex is known for being a super durable guy. When I watch the fight back, I see moments where I feel I could’ve finished him [by strikes] and make a statement. I’m happy with the win, no doubt, and it being that bucket list-type experience. I don’t feel like I made that statement I really wanted to that fight.”

Caceres has only been finished via strikes once in the UFC – by Francisco Rivera Jr. “Bruce Leeroy” has fought a who’s who at both bantamweight and featherweight: Yair Rodriguez, Giga Chikadze, Urijah Faber, and Sergio Pettis to name a few.

“It was good to gain that experience being with a guy as experienced as him,” Woodson said. “Our fight was his 30th fight in the Octagon. The fact I was able to, in my opinion, dominate a guy like that – I feel like I won all three rounds. He’s had one of those careers where people say ‘There’s nothing he hasn’t seen before.’ When we were in there, I feel like he was perplexed, confused and couldn’t get a gauge on me. I was showing him things he’d never seen before.”

Woodson said the lesson he pulled from the Caceres fight is he should apply more pressure and capitalize on instances where he feels he could finish his opponent.

“I’ve been cooking these dudes up,” he said. “I just don’t stick the fork in them, so to say. Early on in my UFC career, I’ve been focused on winning by any means. But now I’ve been around for a minute, and just winning isn’t enough anymore. When watching myself back, I see moments where I could capitalize more and apply more pressure. Fight to finish more. I’m fighting to finish when I’m in there. Just emphasize it more. I really want to make a statement and get myself to the upper echelon of the division, where I feel like I belong.”

Woodson took to the mic in the Octagon immediately after his win and called for a match-up with Bryce Mitchell. Mitchell accepted the fight within moments of Woodson’s callout, but posted on X that the fight may not happen after all.

“Tried to get the Woodie fite,” Mitchell wrote. “I accepted the callout. But looks like it aint gunna happen We will c what they have in mind!”

Woodson gave Mitchell credit for responding right away after his call out. 

“He posted that he was in for it. I wanted it. I thought it was all but a done deal. Then the next day after, he spoke with management and the UFC didn’t want it, I guess. I know anything can happen. There’s a chance it can still happen. Right now, it doesn’t look that way. He wants it, I want it, but apparently, the UFC doesn’t want it, according to Bryce.”

Woodson said he wants to fight any top-15 featherweight who is free. He said he would like either No. 14 Diego Lopes or No. 15 Edson Barboza if he can be ready to fight again by November. No. 13 Dan Ige is set to fight the unranked Joanderson Brito on July 20, while Mitchell occupies the No. 12 slot.

“Definitely somebody in the top 15,” Woodson said. “I feel like I’ve earned that. I’ve been putting together a solid resume. Dennis [Buzukja] is a solid fighter. Jourdain is a top-15 quality guy. Caceres was top-15. I definitely want anybody in the top-15 next. It doesn’t matter who.”

Woodson said Caceres was ranked for most of his camp before Lopes took his spot after his big win over Sodiq Yusuff at UFC 300.

“During my whole fight camp, he was top-15. Just because UFC 300 happened, all of a sudden he’s not top-15? He’s still a top-15 quality opponent for sure,” Woodson said of Caceres.

Woodson is looking to return by late September or November at the latest.

“I’d really like to squeeze another one in before the holidays, for sure,” he said.

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!