LAS VEGAS – Tyron Woodley won’t go so far as to claim Stephen Thompson doesn’t belong in the octagon with him at UFC 209. However, he does think “Wonderboy” is quite fortunate to get the opportunity to be there.
Woodley (16-3-1 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC), the UFC welterweight champion who puts his belt up for grabs in Saturday’s UFC 209 main event, already fought Thompson (13-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) to a majority draw at UFC 205 in November. Woodley strongly believes he should have won the fight, though, and said his opponent should be humble and grateful he’s getting a second chance.
“I think he needs to realize he’s blessed and lucky he’s getting this fight,” Woodley told reporters at today’s UFC 209 open workouts. “A different scoring card, different judges, he would have lost the fight, and he would have had to work two or three more fights to get back in here. He needs to realize this a great opportunity for him to focus more on going out there and trying to defeat me this time and less on why we’re fighting.”
UFC 209 takes place at T-Mobile Arena. Woodley vs. Thompson headlines the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Woodley, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, officially registered a title defense at UFC 205 despite not actually winning. He’s on a four-fight undefeated streak overall, which is just half of the eight-fight unbeaten run that No. 2-ranked Thompson brings into the contest.
Despite the fact he’s the champion, Woodley is currently listed as the betting underdog. Although he’s been openly irritated with the way in which he’s been promoted and pushed by the UFC, he said the odds don’t bother him because he’s been in the same situation for the past seven fights.
“Being the underdog doesn’t change anything,” Woodley said. “You still got to go out there and fight. I’ve been the underdog – I don’t remember the last time I was the favorite, and I haven’t lost since Rory (MacDonald in June 2014).”
Woodley is able to dismiss the odds, but in the grander scheme it could be viewed as proof he’s not given appropriate credit for what he’s achieved in his career thus far. He said that doesn’t bother him, either, because while the current situation is what is it, he plans on leaving a legacy behind in the sport that can’t be denied. And that includes going through Thompson.
“I didn’t really get into this sport for people to worship me or people to bow at my feet,” Woodley said. “I got in this sport to be the best in the world. Right now I’m one of the best. When I retire from fighting I want to be pound-for-pound the greatest welterweight that’s even fought in the octagon, and my goal is to keep knocking out guys one by one and get to that point.”
Watch Woodley’s complete UFC 209 open workout scrum above.
And for more on UFC 209, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.