The welterweight division has always been one of the toughest ones in the UFC. However, a couple of years ago, one man reigned supreme over this weight class: Tyron Woodley. Being one of the best wrestlers in the country with gifted striking, Woodley would rule over the division as its champion.
But Woodley’s legend doesn’t end there. He was one of the most controversial MMA fighters during his glory days. He also pursued a boxing stint (and an unknown acting one) after he was done with his MMA career. Let’s take a moment to briefly revisit the life and career of one of the welterweight GOATs.
Age, Early Life, and Education
Tyron Lakent Woodley was born on April 17th, 1982. He was raised by his mother Deborah Woodley, who’s known to MMA fans as the wholesome Mama Woodley. He was the third-youngest one amongst his 12 siblings, and he grew up in the small city of Ferguson, Missouri.
Tyron Woodley’s Wrestling Career
Woodley graduated from McCluer High School. He was good at sports and excelled at amateur wrestling there. An 18-year-old Woodley won the 4A Men’s State Championship in Missouri. He then majored in Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri.
His wrestling talents got him on the university’s wrestling team. Woodley became a two-time All-American. He also won the first-ever Big 12 championship in the state’s history. Woodley was a senior to future MMA stars Ben Askren and Michael Chandler. They’d hang out and go on road trips together.
Tyron Woodley in Strikeforce
After two wins at smaller events, his third match took place in the big leagues, at Strikeforce MMA. He’d win this one via first-round submission, and this got him a contract there. His next two matches were also won via submission.
In 2010, he won his first match via a first-round submission and the second one as a split decision. He then faced André Galvão, one of the biggest and most decorated BJJ practitioners at the time. Woodley made quick work of Galvão, knocking him out in less than two minutes.
A decision win against his next opponent Tarec Saffiedine landed him a much-deserved contract extension with Strikeforce. His next opponent was the veteran Paul Daley, who was considered to be his toughest opponent back then.
He’d win a unanimous decision against him and later a split decision against prospect Jordan Mein. This win would make him the number one contender for the vacant welterweight title. Woodley faced a battle-tested three-time Pancrase MW champion in Nate Marquardt, who had just left the UFC.
Despite putting in a good effort, Woodley wasn’t able to use his wrestling skills and he got knocked out in the 4th round. This would be the end of his undefeated streak. He joined the UFC in 2013.
Tyron Woodley in the UFC
Woodley would add some impressive names to his hitlist in the UFC. He stopped his first opponent Jay Hieron in about half a minute. Then he lost to former Strikeforce MW champion and veteran Jake Shields via a split decision. He then KO’d Josh Koscheck for a Knockout of the Night bonus.
2014 saw him face former interim UFC welterweight champ Carlos Condit, and win when the latter injured his leg. He’d lose a unanimous decision to another rising prospect in Rory Macdonald. After this, Woodley began one of the most dominant runs in the UFC’s WW division ever.
He first obliterated Dong Hyun Kim in about a minute via TKO and won a Performance of the Night bonus. Then he won a split decision against future middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum. This was his only fight in 2015, as he’d fight after a year and a half.
In about mid-2016, Woodley faced the welterweight kingpin Robbie Lawler for the title. He quickly knocked him out and took the title home along with a POTN bonus. Woodley began a feud with rising star Stephen Thompson and successfully defended his title against him twice.
He’d then make another successful defense, this time against grappling legend Demian Maia. Woodley’s final win would be against rising star Darren Till. Despite the atmosphere being against him, he successfully choked out Till to retain the belt.
He then lost a unanimous decision and therefore his belt to Kamaru Usman in 2019. Usman managed to become the pound-for-pound best in the world and he still has the belt today. Woodley went on a downward spiral, losing to all the top dogs in the WW – Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, and Vincente Luque.
Boxing Career (Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley)
In 2021, it was announced that Woodley’s UFC contract had ended. Meanwhile, the former champ decided to go into boxing. He lost a split decision to Youtuber Jake Paul, got a tattoo of Paul on himself, and then got KO’d by him in their second fight.
Tyron Woodley Outside the MMA
Woodley has always been quite vocal on social media. Despite his talent, his views and comments have gotten him a lot of slack from MMA fans and the UFC. He has had roles in some prominent films such as Straight Outta Compton and Sultan. Woodley has also released a couple of rap songs.
As he’s quite opinionated on social media, he also hosted a TMZ show called The Hollywood Beatdown, where he gave his take on trending stories. Right now, he’s doing his own podcast titled: Morning Wood with Deez Nutz.
Tyron Woodley’s Net Worth and Last Payout
Woodley is worth at least $4-6 million according to online sources. He made big money for his boxing fights; his last one against Jake Paul gave him a $500k+ payout.
Tyron Woodley’s Wife and Children
Woodley is currently married to motivational speaker and life coach Averi. They have 4 children.