UFC 235: Tyron Woodley Believes He Could Overtake GSP As the Welterweight GOAT

By Adam Martin

We all thought we were going to see UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley take on arch-rival Colby Covington next, but after failed negotiations between Covington and the UFC, Kamaru Usman got the call, so he’ll take on Woodley in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC 235 card. It’s a fight between two of the best black fighters to ever compete in MMA, and the winner of this bout will get to be called the greatest welterweight in the world.

For Usman, beating Woodley for the belt would obviously be the biggest win of his career and could be the start of a long line of title defenses for the talented Nigerian wrestler, who has quickly emerged as one of the finest welterweights in the sport, as he’s on a nine-fight UFC win streak heading into this fight. For Woodley though, the consequences of beating Usman are far greater. With a dominant win over Usman, Woodley would continue his march towards surpassing the recently-retired Georges St-Pierre as the greatest welterweight of all time.

If you ask Woodley yourself, he’d tell you he’s already surpassed GSP as the GOAT of 170 lbs. After all, he has a 9-2-1 record in the UFC, and he’s currently riding a seven-fight unbeaten streak with title defenses over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Demian Maia, and Darren Till over his last three bouts, not to mention previous victories over Josh Koscheck, Carlos Condit, Dong Hyun Kim, Kelvin Gastelum, and Robbie Lawler. That’s one hell of a resume, though it still pales in comparison to GSP’s 20-2 record in the Octagon.

However, unlike GSP, who just retired from the sport, Woodley remains active. At age 36 he’s no spring chicken, but based on his last fight, a dominant submission win over the much-hyped Till, he has plenty of gas left in his tank. Should Woodley beat Usman, that would set up a big fight against Covington. Should be beat Covington, Woodley would have no shortage of contenders vying for his belt, including Santiago Ponzinibbio, Leon Edwards and Vicente Luque. Woodley has said in public statements that he believe’s he’s the top welterweight to ever live. Again, GSP has the clear lead in that regard, but Woodley has plenty of time to at least challenge him.

Of course, that all starts with a win over Usman this weekend, and that’s no sure thing. Usman has looked amazing in the UFC, and in his last fight put on his best performance ever with a decision nod over Rafael dos Anjos. In many ways, he’s like a younger Woodley, as he’s a wrestler by trade who has developed his striking to a near elite level. Woodley still has the power advantage due to his big right hand, but with Usman’s volume-striking attack he’ll be arguably Woodley’s toughest test in the three years that he’s held the belt. Although Covington should have gotten the fight because he was the last interim champ, there’s no doubt Woodley vs. Usman is an intriguing matchup.

Woodley is still behind GSP and for that matter Matt Hughes when it comes to the greatest welterweights in UFC history, but he’s catching up quickly and isn’t far away from being in the conversation. It all starts with a win over Usman, and hopefully the fact Woodley is fighting in March will lead to him keeping busy this year just like Jon Jones, as both champions look to build their legacies in this crazy sport we call mixed martial arts.

UFC 235

Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman (UFC Welterweight Championship)

UFC 235: Jones vs. Smith takes place March 2, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 235 Pre-Fight Analysis

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