Tyron Woodley does not care if his ideal next opponent is coming off a loss. He does not care if they are ranked two spots lower than him in the UFC's official rankings.
What Woodley cares about is obtaining the kind of fight that can push him closer to a title shot. As Woodley told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview, he has the perfect opponent in mind: Matt Brown, who squandered a seven-fight winning streak when he fell to Robbie Lawler in July.
Woodley believes Brown is the perfect opponent for several reasons.
"It's a hard fight. His tenacity, his conditioning. He's like a walking zombie," Woodley said. "He's a top-five welterweight. He was just one fight away from being in the title picture.
"I think those types of fights bring the best out of me. It can put me right back in contention, but it can also put me in a position where I'm getting Fight of the Night."
Woodley said that Brown makes the most sense, mostly because there are no other fights in the division that make sense to him. He wants to be the world champion, and to be the world champion, he feels he must be in high-profile bouts against high-profile opponents.
And Woodley still considers Brown a high-profile opponent, even with Brown coming off a loss.
The pairing would go against the UFC's general penchant for matching up winners vs. winners and losers vs. losers, but Woodley said he doesn't see the problem.
"It's hard to use that rubric. It's hard to match up recent winners who are relatively close in rank. Look at my last fight: Dong Hyun Kim was on a winning streak with multiple knockouts in a row. I was coming off a loss. I think there are too many tough guys," he said.
"There are too many fight cards, to be honest," he continued. "You have FS1, Fight Pass, Fox, pay-per-view. I think with the way guys are being matched up and with injuries, it's tough to go through that rubric. So that's the reason I don't have a problem with it."
Woodley moved up to No. 3 in the UFC's official welterweight rankings after the win over Kim, which took place on Saturday from the UFC's latest event in Macau, China.
Kim, perhaps in an attempt to dazzle fans in attendance with his striking, made a costly mistake when he went for a spinning backfist early in the first round. Woodley capitalized and quickly dispatched Kim by knockout, which gave him momentum to move past Carlos Condit in the rankings.
Brown's loss to Lawler, meanwhile, did not hurt him one bit. He remains No. 5 in the rankings, and Woodley says there is good reason for that.
"He was in a tough fight with Robbie. It was a five-round war. I think his stakes didn't drop down too much because it was still a good fight. It was still a good performance," Woodley said.
The win helped Woodley rebound from his own dismal performance in a loss against Rory MacDonald just two months ago.
"I just had that night where you want to punch fast and you're punching slow. You want to move forward but you're moving backwards. It was like my body was doing the opposite of what my mind was telling it to do," he said.
"I also don't want to give out a list of excuses. He stuck to his game plan and stuck to his guns. I just didn't stick to mine that night."
Woodley wants to continue his rebound by fighting on the same card as the eventual Johny Hendricks title rematch against Lawler. By fighting on the same card, Woodley believes he'll get the timing perfect to receive the next title shot or perhaps even the chance to fill in as an injury replacement.
But the main reason Woodley wants to fight on the title-fight card? He believes he puts on his best performances on those nights.
"Every time I've been on a title-fight card, I've had a great performance. I fought Koscheck on the 20th anniversary card. I fought Carlos Condit on the GSP/Johny card," he said. "I like that pressure of having to put on a good show to tell them 'Hey, I'm next. You should be looking out for me.'"
No matter when his next fight takes place, one thing is certain: Fans and UFC brass should be looking out for Woodley.
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