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· Tyron Woodley ~ GDP4

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 02/15 at 05:00 PM

On the surface, February 7th’s Patriot Act event was all about showcasing the debut of Olympic wrestler Ben Askren, and after it was over the talk was about Askren’s successful debut in MMA, and Din Thomas’ successful debut at 145 lbs. However, the most dominant debut of the night might well have belonged to welterweight Tyron Woodley. Woodley (0-0 prior to that night) would submit Steve Schneider (11-15-1) with strikes early in the first round. Schneider would have no offense as ‘T-Wood’ would stuff a takedown attempt and land all seven of his strikes before his opponent would tap out at 1:08 of the first round.

Asked how it felt to share his debut with his fellow American Top Team teammate, Woodley commented, “It’s a business. I'm not in it for the wrong reasons. Plus Ben is a good friend of mine and I want to see him do well. I am also willing to do anything in my power to help him. It was a smart marketing move to draw attention with Ben. Either you like him or you don't. It has nothing to do with if I’m better right now or not. Forget me, what about Din Thomas, the Main Event! Well worthy of attention and could have built the show around him. But for a venue in Columbia (which Ben was a co-promoter of) it was a very smart business move. I am confident where my career is headed. No worries.” And thus the Tyron Woodley era has officially begun.

After spending just a few moments with Tyron, it wouldn’t take you long to see that the 26 year old has all of the attributes to become a fixture in MMA for a long time to come. Those traits were formed by growing up as the eleventh of thirteen children in a single parent home. “A lot of my battles where won, and/or lost, right there in that basement.” For a while, it appeared that young Tyron would indeed get lost to the streets of St. Louis, MO, but after some early failures and behavioral issues he would right his ship. He began wrestling, and tried to follow in the footsteps laid by some of his older siblings. “My cousin, who was adopted, has 16 gold medals in High School Track & Field. My sister, Julie Woodley, was a phenomenal hurdler and now a loan officer. The youngest is a professional dancer. My sister Sharita has an anointed voice, and three of my other sisters are cosmetologist. One is a top sales rep for Nieman Marcus. Sydney has a smashing children's book called Saba's Thoughts of the Day, and some of my step brothers took a liking to basketball. I come from very blessed family, with lots of support and love.” He can surely boast to being fairly successful himself.

Tyron already has accomplished a lot in his life: Undefeated HS State Champ, Junior National All-American, High School National All- American, Big XII Champion, and a 2-time All-American. He also has over 100 collegiate wins at Mizzou and has been ranked by the Olympic team. But, Woodley would tell anyone that his biggest accomplishments in life would be, “When I graduated I was the first one from my family to get a college degree, landed an assistant coaching job in college athletics, and was a huge part of my son’s life. I am nothing like the 'T-Wood' you see in the cage. I’m slow to anger. Haven't had a street fight in over ten years. I am professional and about my Father’s (God's) business and he has been about mine. Most people that know me, before I fight, are very surprised when they see the transformation that takes place.”

After a 7-0 amateur record, all wins by stoppage, how does ‘T-Wood’ feel about finally being a professional fighter? “I don't feel like I've been drafted or anything. For me it is more of a relief! My training/management staff and I have been trying to get to this fight for two years now. I don't train like an amateur, nor do I do this for the heck of it. So, in my mind and in my training, I have been a professional.” About his training, Woodley believes that one can never train with enough talent, “I fight for ATT (American Top Team), but I train all over the place. I have also trained with Matt Lindland and Team Quest, and Robbie Lawler and The HIT Squad. My manager/trainer trains me, 90% of the time, out of St. Charles MMA. I train with a lot of our young guns. I like doing this because their egos are at 0. They are still hungry and they go hard. Look out for Lance Benost, Matt Ricehouse, Bobby Russell, Rob Sherry, and Josh Sampo. The next generation! Until I get a contract that will support me full time, I will continue to work and train and get out of town whenever I can. Fortunately I will be going to Coconut Creek (ATT’s Headquarters) Sunday to train with Thiago Alves (humbling!), Yves Edwards, Din Thomas, and many other ATT studs.” Confident, yet humble, Woodley knows his strengths, as well as his weaknesses. “Wrestling and Cardio will have to go to the top. But I am pretty nasty with my hands. I haven't had a chance to show it, but I have been doing a lot of Muay Thai training and sparring with pro boxers.”

“Life is a fight. The more times you make the decision not to give up, the more you will be able to endure under pressure. The same with training, the more times I make the decision to not give up when I am training, the more likely I will make the same decision in the fight. I have always wanted to do the sports that not everyone could do. ‘Mono y Mono’ has always been my thing. But, now I have a son (JR) so it is not about me anymore. I want to be able to provide and set the path of righteousness for him.” It’s that mentality that has brought Woodley to this point, but he has far bigger things in mind. “I see myself on the top in three years. I finally got my priorities in line; seeking God first and everything else will be added to me.”

Tyron is certainly showing the dedication and sacrifice it would take to make it to the top. “I train full time, parent full time, and work full time. I am an assistant wrestling coach at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.” He even auditioned recently for a shot to leave his family and join the cast of The Ultimate Fighter: USA vs UK. With hundreds of candidates to choose from, Woodley was among a select few at the end of the casting call, and would explain why we won’t be seeing him doing any Junie Browning impressions anytime soon. “Out of about 1000 applicants I made the final 16 or so. They told me that there was no reason that I didn't make it. It’s a confidential matter which I signed documents protecting the show, so I can’t go into great detail. But I can tell you that there wasn't one person there that had a better chance of winning the show than me. There definitely were several that were better morons than me. It's a reality show! It has nothing to do with how talented, hard working, or dedicated you are. Or else I would have been the top pick. Spike picks most of the cast members anyway.” A real bummer for fight fans.

He knows that the path to gold won’t be easy, especially at welterweight. “I walk around at 185, so I’m not cutting much weight. And yes, I plan on staying. It the toughest weight out there. What better belt to hold?” Woodley’s also made a plan on how he plans to get there, “Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez. I think these are all tough fighters with world class resumes. I think my style matches up perfect with theirs. A win against one of these guys could jump me in front of a lot of MMA up and comers. A loss would do what?…...Nothing! That’s the luxury of being the underdog. But my disgust with losing is what makes me so dangerous.” But what about the immediate future for the now 1-0 phenom? “I am looking for a fight right now. There seems to be very few fight cards left this month, and not many next month either. If you know of some holla at me. I’m trying to get something locked down at the beginning of March. Then fight again in April (either in STL or Columbia again).”

“I want to shout out to all my training partners. Everyone who has stayed down with me from day one. My mom and supporting family. My son for motivating me. I want to thank my manager/ trainer, Mike Rogers (St. Charles MMA), attorney Scott Schatzman (Singer Law Firm), and personal trainer, Derek Fairchild (The Fitness Edge). Sponsors?.....Title MMA….and…..I NEED SOME! Anyone who wants to support my movement through a sponsorship/endorsement hit me up at
. Thank you”

“Get in Dat Place, Get in Dat Position, Get Dat Paper, and Give Dat Praise! That’s GDP4” – Tyron Woodley

by J. Andrew Yount

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