On the biggest stage, some fighters rise to the occasion. Others wilt under the pressure. Following UFC 174, many are putting welterweight Tyron Woodley in the latter group.

Woodley made his presence known in the welterweight division after a brutal knockout over Jay Hieron at UFC 156. The wrestler-turned-power-puncher then earned a shot at Jake Shields at UFC 161, only to put on a lackluster performance against a welterweight veteran.

Coming back from a loss, Woodley was set to fight Josh Koscheck at UFC 167. His dominant striking left Koscheck stunned, and Woodley walked away with the win and a “Knockout of the Night” bonus, ending 2013 on a positive note.

That momentum would carry through to early 2014, when Woodley squared off against Carlos Condit. In the bout, Woodley was able to use his wrestling to neutralize Condit’s striking game. Two minutes into the second round, Woodley kicked Condit’s lead leg, causing it to buckle. Woodley won via TKO after Condit was unable to continue fighting.

With a win over Condit, Woodley became a threat to the top fighters in the welterweight division. At UFC 174, he was set to face Rory MacDonald. A win that could have propelled him into contender talk. Despite the hype behind this match-up, Woodley did not deliver.

Leading up to UFC 174, Woodley versus MacDonald was a highly anticipated contest. However, Woodley fell flat and came up short in his performance. Reminiscent of his bout with Shields, he appeared apathetic and lacked his trademark aggressive offense.

So, what gives?

When Woodley wins, he wins in dominating fashion. Facing off against Hieron, Koscheck and Condit, Woodley took control early in each bout, setting the pace. He’s well known for being an aggressive fighter and controlling where the fight goes. And although Woodley is one of the best natural athletes on the UFC roster, his athletic build and aggressive tactics appear to be a double-edged sword.

Athleticism and strength are two variables a fighter desires. The downfall of Woodley’s body type is a propensity to fatigue. More muscle mass requires more oxygen to the muscles, leaving Woodley at a predisposition to tire faster. Sure, he’s dynamic in the opening minutes, but as the clock continues, he wears down. Simply said, speed is power, power is slow.

Aggression also seems to be Woodley’s Achilles’ heel. As evidenced at UFC 174, from start to finish, MacDonald proved to be the aggressor with an onslaught of dominant offense. MacDonald’s powerful and precise strikes exposed a weakness for Woodley. Historically, Woodley performs well when he is the aggressor, but when MacDonald reversed that role, Woodley had no response. MacDonald controlled the fight from the beginning. His forward momentum and relentless pursuit of Woodley was the game changer.

Following the event, UFC President Dana White referred to Woodley as a choke artist. It’s doubtful White’s words fell on deaf ears. If Woodley wants this, he will make adjustments and come back stronger and more skilled. A little more experience would go a long way for him, but don’t count him out just yet.

About The Author

Stacey Lynn
Staff Writer

Stacey Lynn was introduced to MMA in 2007. She stumbled upon training MMA after falling in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Stacey graduated with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in October of 2012 and balances her work as an MMA writer with being a full time psychologist.