American Top Team representative Tyron Woodley can’t wait to get back into action. In fact, he has already been quite outspoken about wanting a showdown with the no. 1 ranked welterweight, Johny Hendricks. But, before he jumps back into the Octagon, fans can tune in and possibly catch glimpses of Woodley on TUF 21: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians. The premiere airs on FOX Sports 1, Wednesday night at 10pm ET.
Woodley’s glad that his camp in Coconut Creek, Florida, will get their much deserved time in the limelight. Of course, they’ll go head-to-head with their rival camp, the Blackzilians. It’s a different look for The Ultimate Fighter, having two camps battle each other. In an interview with Fight Corner, Woodley said that this type of TUF series is long overdue.
“When I first heard they were doing it, I was like, ‘This is going to be the best season ever.’ It’s authenic juice between both teams,” Woodley said. “They cannot stand each other. The owners, I’m surprised they didn’t set up a UFC after this for the finale for the owners to fight.
“So I think it’s a great concept and you will see more of those in the future. You think about teams like Alpha Males maybe versus Alliance or AKA versus Jackson’s camp. I think there’s a lot of opportunities there. And I think it’s great exposure for the sport and it’s great exposure for the teams because these teams have put a lot, hundreds and thousands and millions of dollars in pumping a team and building a family environment, and a coacher of success and winning. I think it’s about time that they start showcasing each individual camp and giving them their due right.”
The prize this season is a TUF Team Trophy and $500,000 to the winning camp. Woodley knows that that money would really help American Top Team build. As he explained, both gym owners Glenn Robinson of the Blackzilians and Dan Lambert of ATT have invested millions of dollars on building top-rate facilities and on their fighters.
“Glenn spent a lot of money building his camp for Alistair Overeem, who is not there anymore, but was there, and for Rashad [Evans],” Woodley said. “All these top fighters, he spent a lot of money to try to relocate and try to build his team, as well as Dan Lambert, for years just supporting and making sure that these guys have the right coaches and the right training partners and the right situations to be successful.
“I think 500,000 to whoever the victor is, is going to be well received and I also think that it’s just great to see these coaches and also the owners. We hear Dan Lambert and we hear Glenn Robinson, how many times do we see their face? They’re kind of just grouped in behind the scenes. Soon as these guys come forth, this is going to give you a whole different respect for American Top Team and the Blackzilians.”
As far as Woodley’s impending return from a broken foot, the no. 3 ranked welterweight has been posting every step of his recovery on social media. The 33-year-old is hoping to be back striving for gold in the Octagon by summertime. Woodley also aims to inspire others by posting each step of his healing process.
“People need to understand that this sport, comes with injury, it comes with adversity, it comes with ups and it comes with downs. You can’t allow an injury or anything or a bump in the road to stop you from changing your goal. So they need to see that.
“I’m still in the mix,” said Woodley. “I’m still in sight, in mind, I’m still hungry. I’m still chasing the title and I’ll be back sooner than you realize. I’m expecting a late July, middle of July return, maybe August. I’m healing pretty fast. My bone’s already completely healed.”
Mentally, the Missouri native holds steadfast about his goals despite his injury. He said once he gets back to training, he’s not going to shudder before throwing a leg kick. Physically, it’ll take strengthening his left leg and getting back to the same routine he’s always done. Woodley said he will fight just like he had in the past, as though nothing happened.
If his body can execute and recover as quickly as he hopes, Woodley has his sights set on a matchup with former UFC welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks. Furthermore, he wants that fight to serve as a title eliminator.
“For me I’m just excited, I’m hungry and I can’t wait to get back in there,” Woodley said. “Hopefully, they give me this fight against Johny Hendricks and we can see who the next number one contender is.
“I think Johny Hendricks was 100 percent getting a title shot after his victory over Matt Brown. And I kind of put a kink in there and said ‘Hey! Why would you wait 7 months to fight?’
“He just fought not too long ago. [Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald] are going to fight in July,” Woodley continued. “The champion’s not going to turn right back around to fight you in the next month. So, you’re scheduled to fight four months before their fight, and after their fight you have to wait four to five months when the champion’s ready to fight again. So that puts it almost between 7 to 9 months.
“I just beat two top ten guys. You just beat a top five guy. Robbie had to fight two guys before he got the chance to fight you again. So why shouldn’t you have to fight two guys? I feel like the 1 and 3 should meet. The victor gets a world title shot.
“I think [the UFC’s] considering it. They haven’t assured me of anything. I don’t know what Johny’s got on it, but…Johny knows me. I’m a fan of his and he’s a fan of mine. We competed against each other in college. We’re different in that aspect. I don’t have to hate Johny to want to compete against him and he don’t have to hate me to have to compete,” Woodley added.
“We’re probably going to fight at some point. There’s no way we won’t fight in our career. We’re probably going to beat the hell out of each other and then we’re going to shake hands afterwards. We’re going to go about our business. There’s no hate amongst us, but he’s in a position that I want to be in. He’s already been at the table and got a chance to eat from it. I’m setting my table right now and I think through him, I’ll be able to get there, the big show and lay down work.”