On Saturday, welterweight world champion Tyron Woodley narrowly defended his belt from Stephen Thompson, but was denied a win from the judges. Despite having landed multiple hits, including a near-knockout and guillotine choke, Thompson was still able to connect several times with impressive power.
The fight was so close that Thompson has already begun arguing for an instant rematch, and will likely get it – if he can convince Woodley to accept over a match with Conor McGregor, who recently teased about moving up in weight class.
So what can we, as everyday people and athletes, take away from this fight and Tyron Woodley’s career?
Keep Fighting, Keep Moving Forward
There are times you will be matched so evenly with an opponent that conquering may be unlikely or impossible. However, that is not a reason to give up and submit. Continue to defend yourself and your accomplishments, and win the respect of those around you.
Professionalism Wins Every Time
After the fight, after Woodley had successfully defended his title but had not landed another win, lightweight champion Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez and demanded that UFC bring out another belt. The UFC had no choice but to borrow Woodleys. Given the tension between the two men that has been building for weeks, it would have been understandable for Woodley to refuse; however, he’s never forgotten that he’s really a part of the entertainment industry, and that preserving his relationship with the UFC is critical to his career.
Woodley told MMA Fighting, “”I’m a good businessman. I love [UFC Vice President of Athlete Development] Reed Harris. Reed Harris is the man. He’s always shot me straight, good or bad, and I love Reed Harris.”
Woodley set a great example of the importance of recognizing when a situation that could be interpreted as an insult is really just the product of necessity, and to stand down and move on. Woodley could have started a negative story about himself by fighting the favor – instead, he opted to take the high road, and won respect because of it.
Stay Humble, Don’t Let Hubris Ruin You
Arguably one of the main reasons that Woodley has been able to defend his title has been because he never relents in his training, or lets his wins get to his head. He told Columbia Daily Tribune that “people who aren’t in the sport that imagine winning a world title, they think, ‘If I had it, I’d wear it to the store. I’d be walking around naked with it.’ Everybody thinks it would be this trophy that you hold on high. Some fighters do that.
“I just feel like now the real work starts. Now that I got this belt, I went from being the hunter, the guy with the sniper rifle looking for the top guy, to being the guy who everybody wants a piece of. I’m the one with the red dot on me. I need to make sure I do what I need to do and I train for this welterweight championship. Now it’s time to work smarter. Now it’s time to really separate myself from the rest of the division and make it very visible that it’s levels, and I’m on a different level.”
As an everyday athlete, it’s important to strive to cultivate the same mentality – whether it’s continuing to check your form even after you hit numbers in the weight room you used to dream of, run faster than you ever have before, or simply realize that you’ve become the person that others come to for advice in your sport. Stay humble, or risk the consequences.
Listen To Great Music To Stay Motivated
Woodley spends hours every week training, and works at a pace that would burn out many others. One way that he stays motivated is by listening to great music – namely hip hop. He grew up with the greats, such as 2Pac, OutKast and The Notorious B.I.G., but still loves to discover new music and is far from set in his ways.
One new song that he loves listening to as he trains is “Permission” by Ro James:
Woodley has also been feeling Raury lately – a new artist who he compares to a young Andre 3000:
What did you think of the fight on Saturday? Are you inspired to train harder after watching Tyron Woodley’s powerful moves? Should McGregor and Woodley be matched?