Tyron Woodley suffered the first loss of his career in July, dropping a Strikeforce welterweight title fight to Nate Marquardt via knockout.
However, he learned a lot about himself in the defeat and will take that knowledge with him to the UFC, where he’s set to debut Saturday against Jay Hieron at UFC 156. Ahead of the bout, Woodley joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show to discuss Hieron, Marquardt and more.
On his loss to Marquardt: “I just learned a lot about myself as a person. I think I grew as a fighter. I realized I’m a lot tougher than what I thought I was. I can take some hits and blows, though he did take me out of there with some devastating hits toward the end. I endured some hard punches before then. I gave some hard punches. It was a back-and-forth war for a while, and I just relaxed a little bit on the cage and he capitalized.”
On what exactly went wrong: “For me, when I was doing the game plan, what I was prepping for, when I was doing what I needed to do, I was having a lot of success in the fight. The only times that he really got a chance to get off was when I was kind of relaxing, backing up and letting him push the tempo. That’s what I learned from it: stick to my guns, stick to the game plan.”
On striking with Marquardt: “Not very many guys punch that hard or hit that hard or have that size. It gives me confidence against the rest of the guys. … I really don’t have that fear of any fighter. I really don’t even fear Nate, even after he finished me off with those elbows and uppercuts. I would love to fight him again. With that kind of mindset, it’s just making me go into the fight [against Hieron] a little bit more easy and a little bit more confident.”
On the move to the UFC: “I think it’s been long overdue. I’m a very patient individual, but sitting around and waiting, and waiting and waiting, is kind of nerve-wracking sometimes. It’s great to get the opportunity to be coming in and fighting a guy like Jay Hieron who’s been around the sport for a very long time. I’m not fighting somebody at the bottom of the food chain and have to chop the ladder down all the way from the bottom. It will be a good showcase. I think our styles of fighting match up well for a good fight and I think the fans will enjoy it.”
On Hieron: “I think Jay Hieron has several tools. I think that’s his advantage. He knows how to use his range. Not a lot of long guys know how to fight long. I think he does it very well. He frustrates his opponents. He gets them to overcommit. He mixes up kicks well with punches. He counters well. I think he’s a guy that’s going to be moving around, and if you’re not patient and if you don’t wait for your opportunities, I think he’ll have a good show against you.”
On how he matches up against Hieron: “I think I’ve probably got the advantage in power, probably the advantage in speed. He probably has the upper hand in experience. At the end of the day, fights aren’t fought on paper. We have to see what’s going to happen on the 2nd and I look forward to seeing what happens.”
On how the fight could play out: “You start hanging some nice little bonuses over our head, I don’t know what the hell might happen in there. I might go crazy. I’m coming to bring the fight.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 46:44).