Kamaru Usman provided an upset earlier this month when he dethroned the former champion Tyron Woodley in their welterweight scrap at UFC 235.
The most surprising takeaway of the fight was the manner that Usman dominated his opponent over five rounds with relentless pressure eventually grinding out a one-sided unanimous decision victory. Woodley has claimed he was not himself during the fight and has struggled to come to terms with why he performed the way he did.
This weekend in London, another pair of potential 170-pound contenders clash when Darren Till faces off against Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC Fight Night 147, also known as UFC on ESPN+ 5.
Till’s last fight was against Woodley back in September at UFC 228 for the 170-pound title in a fight where Till failed to land a single significant shot on the champion before being submitted in the second round. Woodley was at his best in that fight and Till believes the man he faced back in September was different than the man that lost the title to Usman earlier this month.
“To me, and this is no disrespect to Usman in no way: I actually sent Usman a message after the fight congratulating him and saying I can’t wait to fight,” Till told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I know Usman was chasing me a while back, but now it’s obviously me chasing him. But it just didn’t seem to me like the Woodley team turned up to fight like they did (against) me.”
“The Gorilla” believes that Woodley was driven by fear in their fight which forced the champion to come prepared and put on a world class performance. The 26-year-old then pointed out that the same thing couldn’t be said for the fight earlier this month claiming Woodley was too much in his comfort zone and his performance showed that:
“I know when he was fighting me, he was scared,” Till said. “When you’re fighting a guy like me, you have to be scared. You know what I bring to the table. And he said that openly. I could feel fear, but that fear drove him on. He was so powerful and quick and aggressive.
“As much as Usman looked so, so good in there like a top-level fighter, Woodley just didn’t seem like the same Woodley as we’ve seen previously. And he’ll still go down as one of the best ever. He just didn’t seem like the guy we knew. And that’s not to take anything away from Usman. He perfected that strategy. But it was a weird fight.”