Tyron Woodley seems to be the kind of fighter who always disappoints whenever there’s a big fight to be won, according to Dana White.
In speaking with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani (h/t Dave Doyle of MMAFighting), the UFC president was highly critical of Woodley’s performance Saturday night against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174. It was a complete rout from start to finish, as MacDonald forced Woodley into a defensive shell and dissected the former Strikeforce champ en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
“He choked in the big fight tonight,” White told Helwani. “He needed to come out and try to rip that head off in the third round and he didn’t even do that. He threw a few punches, missed and didn’t knock him out. He just sort of sat back into the way he fought the rest of the fight.”
The old adage about sticks and stones and words not hurting was likely an afterthought for Woodley after hearing White’s follow-up comments. According to the UFC president, these kind of letdown performances are becoming a common occurrence for Woodley.
He even went as far as insinuating that “T-Wood” chokes in big fights.
“He got beat tonight. He got beat mentally. He got beat physically. Tyron’s got a ways to go. He seems like he chokes in the big fights,” said White.
It should be noted that Woodley is coming off back-to-back wins over Josh Koscheck and former interim UFC champ Carlos Condit. His only losses in the UFC have come against MacDonald and in a highly controversial split-decision loss to Jake Shields.
What gets swept under the rug in the latest hiccup is the technical brilliance displayed by MacDonald. The 24-year-old protege of former UFC champ Georges St-Pierre has stepped from beyond the shadow of his mentor and into the spotlight.
Chants of “Rory” echoed throughout Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, as the young contender put on a stand-up clinic. He even managed to secure a takedown in the final round on the NCAA Division I All-American wrestler.
Woodley loaded up on all of his punches and even attempted several takedowns. But his typically aggressive fighting style was completely nullified by MacDonald’s ability to control the Octagon and keep him on his heels.
The notion that Woodley is a choker may seem a bit premature and harsh, but there’s no question Saturday night’s loss set him back a ways in the welterweight title picture.