Tyron Woodley is arguably the most talented fighter being built via Strikeforce’s Challenger brand. He made a case for being tough competition back in October, when he met Andre Galvao at Strikeforce: San Jose.
In that bout, Woodley fought a favored Galvao for just under two minutes before the contest was stopped due to strikes by the All-American wrestler. The TKO win put a definitive pin on the MMA map’s welterweight region. That pin being Woodley’s, of course.
Woodley now takes the spotlight on Friday’s Strikeforce Challengers 13 fight card when he takes on Team Quest fighter Tarec Saffiedine.
The fight stands as the evening’s main event, and for good reason. The one who claims victory between these two mixed martial artists will surely be propelled into the limelight of the organization’s 170-pound division. Names like Nick Diaz, Paul Daley, and Scott Smith wait in the wings as potential opponents for Woodley or Saffiedine.
Woodley stopped by MMAWeekly Radio and talked about the potential for big moves as a result of winning Friday’s fight.
“Definitely,” he said. “They relayed the message to me and I think they’ve done the same thing with Tarec.”
At 7-0, Woodley has gotten off to a great start in his MMA career. An unblemished record is clear evidence of his success. Fighting professionally for nearly two years, the 28-year-old mixed martial artist has already seen his share of quality talent inside the cage. From an outside prospective, the biggest win of his fighting tenure was definitely his last over Galvao.
Beating a favored opponent is a quick way to make sure no one is looking past you. Doubters and haters turn into believers. The feeling of gaining recognition is euphoric to the Strikeforce welterweight.
“It’s refreshing because, whether they say it or not, I think people have been looking over my shoulders before this time,” Woodley said.
Strikeforce received some criticism for scheduling Woodley as part of the headliner for a Challengers card after performing impressively on a major card. Historically, Challengers fight cards have been for developing talent, as opposed to showcasing the top fighters in the organization. Many fans and media felt that Woodley deserved to move on from the Challengers series and into the bright lights of major Strikeforce events.
Though he admits it’s difficult to be patient and watch the bigger shows, Woodley feels that, as an organization, Strikeforce has brought him up just about right.
“They’ve done a good job of bringing me along,” he said. “They didn’t give me patty cake fights, but they also didn’t throw me out there for a title shot before it was time for me to get it. So, I’m appreciative of the process.”
With his grateful attitude, Woodley reflected on his time on the Challengers shows.
“I think I got in at the right time,” he said. “I think I got an opportunity to show the fans, show the organization that I’m a worthy opponent as far as title contention. I got a chance to grow. People got a chance to get to know me as a person.”
Saffiedine is on his way up the Challengers ladder himself. The 24-year-old fighter is on a three-fight win streak with two of those victories coming under the Strikeforce Challengers banner.
Much like many see potential in him, Woodley recognizes the caliber of opponent for Friday night.
“I can see this guy being a force to reckon with in a year or two, three years,” Woodley explained. “A lot of guys that are veterans, (but) they’re not at their peak, so when I see this guy, I think he’s my toughest opponent in the division. That’s hands down. That’s what I think of him.”