Tyron Woodley, former Strikeforce Welterweight Championship contender, steps in for the injured Erick Silva to square off against Jay Hieron at UFC 156.
Woodley will not only get his arm raised at the end of the fight, but he will put himself on the map in the UFC's 170-pound division.
Hieron is a tough opponent and his pedigree makes him a great debut opponent for Woodley. He has excellent strikes, knockout power, and solid tools in the other areas of his game. However, Hieron simply will have no answer for Woodley's ground game.
Woodley enters the cage for the first time since the title fight against Nate Marquardt in Strikeforce—a fight that Woodley ended up being knocked out in. The 30-year-old finally got a taste of what it was like at the top of the division, which will help him grow as a fighter after such a great learning experience.
As UFC 156 rolls around Woodley will definitely be prepared for Hieron's striking game, and he will know that stylistically he is a bad matchup for his opponent.
Hieron has always struggled against wrestlers, and the change in opponent will affect him more than Woodley coming on a month's notice.
Silva is a dynamic athlete who loves to strike and has knockout power. The fight against Hieron was shaping up to be an interesting striking matchup, but now the 36-year-old has to switch gears and prepare for a top-level wrestler. Even though Hieron knows the style well it is still difficult to switch gears and prepare for a new opponent.
Woodley will be in good condition. The fight is scheduled for February 2, and by fight time "T-Wood" will have had one month of camp. If it were another fighter that may be a bigger issue, but the former University of Missouri stand-out always keeps himself in the gym and in shape.
And Woodley will always have his wrestling to fall back on in case he does get in trouble against Hieron, but he has been inside the cage with powerful strikers such as Paul Daley before.
Woodley is still growing as a fighter. He can show flashes of dominance, but still look very green. When he steps inside the Octagon for the first time we will see what he has been working on since the loss to Marquardt.
The former Tiger can walk in the cage knowing he can take down Hieron at will and grind for 15 minutes. That can sometimes be tiresome for the fans, but Woodley mixes up strikes on the ground well and has big power in his ground and pound.
Hieron cannot allow Woodley to have space to reign down blows. Woodley generates a lot of power in short distances and it only takes one punch slipping through to put the fight away.
He also has an underrated submission game.
Regardless of how the fight finishes, by stoppage or a decision, Woodley will get his hand raised at UFC 156, he will do so in dominant fashion, and he will make a statement in his debut for the company.
Welterweight is still the division of wrestlers, and one of the best wrestlers in the division has arrived in the Octagon.