UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley says his relationship with UFC president Dana White is in a much better place, following several conversations during the past two days.
During an interview on The MMA Hour on Monday, Woodley demanded White make a public apology for his disparaging comments after Woodley’s successful title defense last weekend. If White did not apologize, Woodley threatened to start “leaking some s— that people don’t want to be out in the wind.”
Woodley, from St. Louis, told ESPN on Wednesday that he and White spoke back-to-back days this week and he is satisfied with the result.
“There was some yelling back and forth,” Woodley said. “At the end of the conversation, I felt pretty comfortable. It ended on a positive note. Two men can talk on the phone and maybe not agree on everything, but at least respect each other.
“I still feel he should apologize publicly, but I’m not going to hold my breath. The conversation ended with respect and that was really my goal. Dana knows all about talking off emotion. I went a little (crazy) and was talking off emotion, too. Did I really plan on leaking stuff? Probably not. But at the time, I was mad and it sounded good.”
Woodley (18-3-1) has received criticism in back-to-back title defenses this year. He’s defeated Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia — the obviously No. 1 contenders of his division — but the fights have lacked knock-down, drag-out action.
Following UFC 214 on Saturday in Anaheim, California, White was extremely critical of Woodley’s performance, and felt Woodley could have knocked Maia out.
Woodley says he and his coaches are extremely pleased with how the fight went, especially since he suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder early on.
“I don’t fight safe, I fight smart,” Woodley said. “I’ve watched the fight several times and I feel the same way I did when I walked out of the cage.
“I fight with a game plan, but sometimes you have an audible. In this fight we had one. Were there times that I thought I could knock him out? Yes. But I had to do an audible because my shoulder wouldn’t let me throw the overhand right.”
As a sort of punishment for the performance, White has stated the UFC intends to book a middleweight championship fight between Canadian star Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping. It’s no secret Woodley would love to face St-Pierre, a former champion who walked away from the sport in 2013.
Woodley says he knew all along that St-Pierre would not agree to fight him though, so it doesn’t feel as if he lost anything despite White’s comments.
“That was never going to happen,” Woodley said. “My fight played no factor in that.
“I want Georges to know there’s no shame in his game. I’m not saying he’s scared. He’s not coming back for a belt or to be the best. He’s coming back for big-money fights. He sees a sport in which he helped the pay-per-view model grow and he wants to get on it. There’s no shame in that. But don’t say you’re here for any other reason.
“For me, it’s about the legacy, being the best fighter and a champion who takes all comers. I’m going to make more money outside the Octagon, after my career, than I make in it. But it’s making it difficult for me to achieve my goals when I have unnecessary stumbling blocks like my promoter saying damaging comments about me.”
Woodley, 35, is expected to miss time due to the shoulder injury. At this time, he hopes to avoid surgery.