Tyron Woodley promises to beat Johny Hendricks “like he’s never been beaten before”

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Tyron Woodley is happier than ever. The UFC welterweight has had his wish granted and he’ll finally fight top contender Johny Hendricks. Originally supposed to meet on the UFC 189 card, the twosome will now do battle in the Octagon at UFC 192 in October. Woodley says this is the best time for the two to meet given the surgery on his foot that was required after beating Kelvin Gastelum in January.

“I’m 100 percent now,” Woodley told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s The MMA Hour. “I was bumping my gums pretty loud. I knew I wasn’t going to fight on the July card, but I was pushing for it and if they would’ve said, ‘Yeah, man, I’m ready to go, you get the card in July’, my eyes would’ve opened up like this. Physically, I thought I was going to be ready and I wasn’t, but now I’m 100 percent healed, I’m 100 percent mentally ready and I got that break and I had that family time, now I’m ready to fight.”

“Sometimes it becomes a chore and it becomes a job, but I’m at the point now where I’m eager. Right before I called you, I just got off the phone with Duke Roufus and Din Thomas,” he explained. “We coordinated the training camp, how much time I’m going to spend in Florida, how much time I’m going to spend in Milwaukee, the weeks, what we’re going to work on and everybody’s excited. It’s like they’re fighting, too, because when I go in the Octagon, I’m a representative of guys like [Ricardo] Liborio, guys like Dan Lambert, Din Thomas, Duke Roufus. These guys, they go into the Octagon with me. I’m just excited.”

He states that the camp will start in Milwaukee and end up at American Top Team in Florida before he returns home to Missouri to make the very final adjustments before flying out. “I’ll get back home, get my weight down, get on that plane and go out there and beat Bigg Rigg down like he’s never been beat before”.

“I want to fight the best. He’s a former champion at one point. He’s had three or four title shots, one of them he pulled out, the others were very close. With that said, he’s arguably one of the best if not some think he’s the best guy in the world. I can go and out fight a fighter that’s outside the top 10 or a fighter that’s a good style match-up and go out there and put on this crazy performance, beat him up and look all amazing and get a title shot off that.”

“For me, I know that beating the best and continually, consistently doing that is going to make my road to the top deserved and earned,” he continues. “That’s why I can go look in the mirror, go to sleep at night and feel comfortable about that.”

Both men share a wrestling past and Woodley reflects on their prior meeting with some remorse:

“I wrestled Johny in the Big 12 finals. It was a very close match,” Woodley recalls. “I was in on a single leg trying to take him down to go out by the lead. He put three fingers in my mouth and he started pulling my face away to get me off of his leg. He looked to the ref, he was like, ‘Look! Look! He bit me! He bit my hand! He bit my hand!’ Then the referee didn’t even ask me, didn’t check for bite marks. They just penalized me a penalty point and that was the difference maker of the match.”

“With that and just that history, I lost that close Big 12 match. I never got over it,” he admits. “I had to really forgive him because I wanted to beat him up. The Big 12 finals, that’s almost more important than being an All-American because the Big 12 was so deep with talent, so many national championships and All-Americans. When he decided to put those three fingers and fish hook me, I got penalized for biting him. I’m like, ‘You put your fingers in my mouth.'”

Woodley may have frustration with prior meetings and wish to exact some revengeful rounds at 192, but he isn’t fighting from malice or aggression. He says it’s precisely the opposite. It’s his respect for Hendricks that furthers him that extra mile and seek the toughest challenge.

“One thing that separates us from other fighters, we’re actually really not fighters. We’re competitors,” he says. “So, I can talk with him, smile with him, have a drink with him. When they lock that cage, I’m trying to knock him out. I’m trying to hurt him and I think he’s going to try to do the same thing to me.”

Endless UFC and MMA obsessive, Chris adores the intense world of this sport - both inside and outside the Octagon. He is also a cinema devotee and has carved an elongated career in film criticism across both online and print media. He hopes you all read this bio in your best Bruce Buffer voice...