In 2016, championship upsets are sweeping through the UFC divisions like a fire in a bush.
No one, it seems, can keep hold of their gold and on Saturday in the main event of UFC 201 in Atlanta, another crown slipped as Tyron Woodley became the new welterweight champion.
There have been seven title changes this year already and perhaps now people will understand that it is simply imprudent to count anyone out in the sport of MMA because 2016 has been hallmarked by upset after upset.
While Woodley was by no means considered a massive underdog, champ Robbie Lawler was viewed as a savage, a man who had resurrected an oscillating career to become the ultimate guts and glory fighter.
The last 18 months for him have involved one war after another having gone through bloody battles with Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit. But for his American Top Team team-mate that same period has been one of frustration.
Not only does Woodley want Nick Diaz next, he wants to fight him at UFC 202. In 21 days.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 31, 2016
Woodley has sat on the sidelines since a January 2015 win over Kelvin Gastelum. In part, it wasn’t all his own doing as an October clash with Hendricks was scrapped after the former 170lbs champ missed weight. However, ‘The Chosen One’ was adamant his time to shine was now and he waited for that title shot.
When it finally arrived, he wasted no time in dethroning another divisional king, baiting Lawler into dropping his hands with a feinted jab before detonating a bomb of an overhand right on the champ’s chin.
Woodley pounced on his downed opponent and the fight was brought to a stop at 2:12 of the opening round – the fastest finish in UFC welterweight title history and just the second career KO defeat for Lawler.
Now, No. 1 ranked Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is widely perceived as deserving the first shot at the new champion but Woodley has other ideas with legends Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre topping his hit list.
“These guys are legends,” Woodley said at the post-fight press conference. “Nick Diaz is a top-five welterweight of all time in my eyes. Georges St-Pierre is the No. 1 welterweight in my eyes. If I’m an athlete in this sport, in this division and I want to say I’m the best in the world, I feel like I should compete against those guys.
“So I don’t feel any obligation to go by the rankings. We all know how those rankings are produced anyway. And I want to go out there and I want to fight the money fights.”
In the co-main event, Karolina Kowalkiewicz set up a mouthwatering all-Polish straw-weight title clash with belt holder Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the pound-for-pound women’s MMA fighter.
Undefeated Kowalkiewicz, No. 5 ranked, vaulted into championship contention with an upset split-decision win over the No. 3-ranked Rose Namajunas and then called out her compatriot after the biggest win of her career.
“I want the fight with Joanna,” the 30-year-old said. “I am ready for her. She said that I’m not on her level. “I think that I am good enough to fight with her. I want a fight with her. Let’s do this. Polish power versus Polish power.”
Know more about Sport360 Application