Behind a vicious right-hand, Tyron Woodley became the 11th man to win the UFC undisputed Welterweight belt.
Woodley’s knockout victory over “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (27-11) continues the 2016 trend of musical champions in the UFC. The new welterweight king became the seventh fighter in the UFC this year to realize his or her dream of being a UFC champion.
Woodley (16-3) was able to use his speed and power to deliver a crushing right hand to put Lawler away at the 2:12 mark of the first-round.
“We just knew Robbie would be well-prepared for takedowns and hit me with knees and uppercuts,” Woodley said. “I used a little speed, a blitz to cover the gap. I saw the opening and went for the right hand. Something kept telling me the right hand would be open.”
After taking Woodley’s bomb on the chin, the durable Lawler was completely disoriented for about two minutes after the fight before regaining his senses. The knockout loss is the first for Lawler since getting knocked out by Nick Diaz at UFC 47 in 2004.
Once he got back to normal, the former Welterweight champion made it a point to give his former American Top Team teammate all the props in the world.
“It is what it is,” Lawler said. “He feinted me, my hand went down, he threw a punch over the top and it caught me. I expected that kind of stuff, but I was sitting back a little bit, not moving like I needed to. He took advantage.”
The fifth knockout of Woodley’s career ends a long road for him to reach the top of his division.
Woodley won back-to-back fights against Dong Hyun Kim and Kelvin Gastelum before having a scheduled fight against former champion Johny Hendricks last October canceled the day before the fight because Hendricks couldn’t make weight.
Instead of taking another fight, Woodley bet on himself and elected to wait for a title fight against Lawler. As a result, Saturday’s fight was the first time he fought in the Octagon in 18 months.
Many expect Woodley’s first challenge might come in the form of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (13-1) who his currently ranked No. 2 in the UFC Welterweight rankings. If the newly crowned champion has anything to say about it, Thompson and other contenders will have to wait in line for their shot, as Woodley has his eyes on a big money fight.
“Who I want fight is Nick Diaz,” Woodley said when asked by Thompson for a title shot on the FS1 live post-fight show. “Diaz is coming off suspension in like two-days and he’s the money fight. I’m an ‘OG’. I’ve been here for a while and I want to make the big dough. So if he wants to fight in August with his brother Nate Diaz, I’m uninjured and I think me and him could shut down the event in August at UFC 202 so let’s make the event.”
Whoever Woodley faces next, will definitely have their hands full with a determined champion who has no intentions of getting off the top of the ladder anytime soon.