Tyron Woodley has taken some criticism from fans in his MMA career, but he's really in no mood to apologize for his game plans.
Woodley (10-0 MMA, 8-0 SF), who meets Nate Marquardt (31-10-2 MMA, 0-0 SF) next month for the vacant welterweight title in the co-main event of "Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy," said sometimes, fights are just going to end in decisions.
"It’s not like you don't try to finish. It's not like you make a decision, 'OK, I'm going to let this fight go to the three rounds,'" Woodley told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) earlier this week. "Some guys just don't want to be put away. I don't want to be put away. You have to find a way to go for the victory shot and get dominant positions, try to do damage."
Woodley's career started with five submission finishes, including three in Strikeforce. But four of his last five wins have come by decision, including two splits. And it seems many times, with MMA fans, it's what have you done for me lately.
Against Marquardt, a former UFC middleweight title challenger who will be making his Strikeforce debut, Woodley takes on an opponent who has been finished just three times in 43 fights.
But that doesn't mean Woodley is counting on needing to go five rounds to get a victory.
"My goal is, obviously, to exploit weaknesses and to find gaps and openings," Woodley said. "Many times, my opponent has a weakness (and) I've found a way to figure it out – even if I don't find it the first or second round. If you look at my record, within 10 fights, I’ve had six fight finishes."
And if he can't get the finish? If he has to go five rounds, relying on a takedown-heavy wrestling-based attack? What then, if the boo-birds come out? Woodley said as long as he and his team are comfortable with how he fights, everything's all good.
"The criticisms are coming from spectators," Woodley said. "Criticisms aren't coming from my trainers. Criticisms aren't coming from my training partners. I have to really take it with a grain of salt. … A lot of criticism has been really unjustified, and it’s just they’re criticizing my ability to take down opponents at will, control a situation and basically neutralize everything they bring to the table. So, if that's a knock on me, maybe I'm not in the right sport. I thought it was mixed martial arts."
Woodley said he knows Marquardt would be a big boost on his resume, which includes wins over Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine. He also believes the timing at this point in both fighters' careers – and with Marquardt fighting for the first time since a win over Dan Miller in March 2011 at UFC 128 – things might tilt in his favor, even though he believes Marquardt has plenty of reasons to be prepared.
"He's a big name – he's one of the top guys," Woodley said. "He had a chance at a middleweight belt. This is a guy I should be able to knock out … I'm fighting a guy that's trying to redirect his career. He's going to another weight. And he's going to meet me at my best. I'm going to meet him at his best. Those victories mean a little bit more to me than taking out a guy that's on his way out."
But when all is said and done, whether Woodley has to grind out a 25-minute decision to get his hand raised, or if he scores a highlight-reel knockout in the first round, he's sticking firm to one belief.
"He's a well-rounded fighter. He's good in a lot of areas," Woodley said. "But at the end of the day, it's my time to be champion. And that's what I'm going for."