When Nick Diaz left Strikeforce and went to the UFC, he had to vacate the Welterweight Title. The question: what was Strikeforce going to do with the title?
A lot of people were expecting the Tyron Woodley-Paul Daley fight that took place in July to be for the title. That ended up not being the case with no reason given. Woodley ended up winning the fight and not a lot has been discussed regarding the title picture since no one knew if Strikeforce would still be around.
Dana White announced last month that Strikeforce would still be around with eight events taking place. Strikeforce announced last month that Woodley would be fighting, people thought it would be a title fight. That is not the case as Woodley (9-0 MMA, 7-0) will be facing Jordan Mein (23-7 MMA, 1-0 SF) on Saturday night at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs Jardine.
The event takes place from The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Woodley vs Mein is apart of the main card that will air on Showtime starting at 10ET.
You would think Woodley would be bummed that he is facing Mein and not facing a top ten guy, but Woodley feels this is an intriguing fight for him.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to match the kid," Woodley told me. "I think he's put together fights really well. It's actually an exciting fight for me. I was talking to someone in Vegas when I was there for the TUF finale, that oif they can't find anybody that's in the top ten for me to fight for a world title, he was one of the kids that interests me. Just because I think it will be an interesting and exciting fight about what he brings to the table, so it will be a good night for MMA."
Some people thought this fight would be for the title considering Woodley defeated Daley in July and isn't taking down the picture of the title on his Facebook until he gets the title. Woodley doesn't feel the Mein fight should be for the title as well.
"Actually I don't. I'm gunna be honest," Woodley said. "I would love that belt more than anybody. But I think, this fight is a three round fight. I think now that I'm fighting this fight after fighting Paul Daley now everybody sees why me and why Paul thought it was for the title because we were the top two guys in the weight. So now what do you do? Who do I fight? Whose for the title?
Woodley adds, "You know you gotta get real creative. Some people are injured, some people are in different countries, some people have issues with clearance. But now, had you had that fight for the title I would be walking around with a belt right now and they would have a little more time to figure that out. And I'd have a nice, shiny Strikeforce belt to put on my wall and I can change my picture because that Strikeforce belt has been my picture for the last six months. I'm not taking it down until it's around my waist."People have wondering what will happen with the title. Woodley says everyone knows what should have happened and is focused on cracking the top ten, be the best welterweight in the world.
"I think personally what should have been done has happened and is water under the bridge," Woodley said. "I think right now they just gotta see how things play out. See how I look, see how some of the other welterweight's look in there bouts, wait on some guys to get healthy. They have to deliver a good fight because in my opinion, I would really prefer to fight guys who are in the top ten because I need to crack the top ten.
"I'm really close. I've been clinging in some different rankings. I'm cracking it, not that I have a goal to be there and "oh I'm in the top ten YAY."
Obviously that's my goal, but I would be in the top of the world," Woodley said. "I cannot be there dangling around in honorable mention and top 20, so I gotta be able to get myself to that point where they start proposing bouts for me to fight these guys. They can't get out of saying, "Ah Tyron really ranked up there and ah he hasn't been around because what they really want to say is it's too risky fight, he's not ranked in the top ten in the world, he's dangerous, he's good, he's coming to fight."
"But with that said, I gotta knock off good guys whether there ranked, whether it's for the title, whether it's in the backyard, on the trampoline," Woodley said. "I gotta be able to beat good guys at any moment. I think that's what I'm taking. That's the theme for this fight. I gotta go out there and show everyone why I should be the Strikeforce champ."
When Zuffa purchased Strikeforce a lot of things were in question. Who was coming, who was going? Nick Diaz and Alistair Overeem were big names to leave and since White announced Strikeforce was staying, the heavyweight division will be abolished after the grand prix ends rumored to be in March. All the top guys are gone. Woodley feels like he belongs in the UFC, but he has business he wants to finish up in Strikeforce.
"Definitely without a shadow of a doubt," Woodley said. "No matter what anybody says or thinks, nobody believes that I'm not the number one welterweight in Strikeforce. I think that's not even a question. I think that the thing is basically I don't really have a desire to leave Strikeforce. I've been there since 2009. I work my way from fighting and arguing and raising a fuss to get on the undercard."
"I had to fight to get on the undercard," Woodley said. "I almost got scratched from the undercard selling tickets to just to be on the card in June of 2009. So to be able to start in a major organization, I didn't start in the UFC, come back through like some other guys. This is the first major organization that gave me a chance."
"So until I get that belt, I'm not leaving," Woodley said. "It would be silly for me to work almost two and a half years chomping out whoever they put in front of me and for me to not capture that belt. So that's what I'm shooting for and I would like to get it and I would like to defend it and we'll see what happens after that."
You can listen to the two part interview with Tyron Woodley here.
You can follow me on Twitter @fightclubchi.
Steven Muehlhausen is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.