Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley might be booking his next title defense much sooner than expected.
Following a win over Demian Maia in July, Woodley revealed that he suffered a shoulder injury that could potentially end with surgery, putting him out of action until sometime in 2018.
Now it seems Woodley might be negotiating for his return to the Octagon before the end of the year as he teased on the post fight show following UFC Fight Night in Norfolk, Virginia.
“You might be seeing me this year at some point, people,” Woodley said when asked about his return to action. “Just stay tuned. I may have some news for you next week.”
It was a shocking revelation from Woodley considering he was expected to be out of action until next year but now it appears he may be negotiating for a fight before 2017 is finished.
If Woodley does return, it would almost certainly be to serve as the main event for UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas as the year end card is still lacking a headline fight.
Several bouts have been rumored for the card including a women’s featherweight title fight between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Holly Holm, but contract negotiations for that matchup have stalled in recent weeks.
There was also hope that lightweight champion Conor McGregor might return on that card, but as time has passed, it’s looked less and less likely that he would fight in 2017 following his mega payday after facing Floyd Mayweather in August.
If Woodley does book a fight in December, the list of contenders would seem to be rather short outside of No. 3 ranked welterweight Colby Covington, who has been calling for a fight with the champion throughout 2017.
Covington most recently dispatched Demian Maia to earn his spot in the top five rankings and he’s been relentless with his call outs of Woodley ever since.
For now, let the guessing games begin as we await word on whether or not Woodley will indeed put his title on the line one more time before the year is over.