Tyron Woodley vs Conor McGregor: The beef that was never squashed

Tyron Woodley (L) and Conor McGregor (R) have a history
Tyron Woodley (L) and Conor McGregor (R) have a history
Modified 07 Feb 2021

Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor have hit a rough patch in their UFC careers in recent times. But the former champions were on a collision course when the two were at the peak of their careers. In early 2016, Conor McGregor became the first UFC fighter to attempt to be a simultaneous two-division champion. In the lead-up to his lightweight title fight, McGregor's coach John Kavanagh revealed that he was open to a welterweight title fight if his pupil wanted to pursue it.

The historic UFC 205 event headlined by Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title also had Tyron Woodley defending his welterweight strap against Stephen Thompson on the undercard. Both McGregor and Woodley went on to emerge as champions of their respective divisions and rather interesting interactions between them during fight week fuelled speculations about a potential title fight involving the pair.

The beef between Conor McGregor and Tyron Woodley ended with Woodley's belt around McGregor's waist

UFC 205 pre-fight press conference served as the starting point of the short-lived beef between Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor when a media question led the two into a small altercation. Upon being asked if he would move up further in weight to capture the welterweight title after defeating lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor had a short but assertive answer.

"All the belts," Conor McGregor said before dropping the mic.

Tyron Woodley did not take kindly to McGregor's answer and dismissed the Irishman's potential to compete against the bigger guys.

"Aye, we punch with way different power in this division. Pack a lunch brother," Tyron Woodley responded.

The feud between the two intensified during the weigh-ins when Tyron Woodleys greetings were met with a less-than-friendly staredown from Conor McGregor, followed by a back-and-forth between the two on twitter.

After being crowned as the lightweight champion at UFC 205, Conor McGregor famously called out the UFC officials to bring his second belt to the octagon for photo ops and they obliged by borrowing Tyron Woodley's belt to satisfy the Notorious One!

The UFC borrowed Tyron Woodley
The UFC borrowed Tyron Woodley's belt for McGregor's photo-ops at UFC 205

Tyron Woodley took a jab at McGregor for the favor in an interview with Ariel Helwani later and expressed his desire to meet Conor McGregor in the UFC octagon.

"If the powers that be in the UFC and the fans want to see us scrap, I mean, just send me a bout agreement. I’m in," Tyron Woodley said to Ariel Helwani.

The short-lived feud between Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor fizzled out following the latter's historic win over Eddie Alvarez. Conor McGregor took a leave of absence from MMA to pursue a high-profile boxing fight against retired boxing great Floyd Mayweather, eventually getting stripped of both the UFC championships he held.

Tyron Woodley defended his welterweight title three more times after UFC 205 and lost to Kamaru Usman in 2019. Woodley has been on a decline ever since and is scheduled to fight No.9-ranked welterweight contender Vicente Luque at UFC 260. McGregor has fought in the UFC three times after returning from boxing and lost his most recent fight against Dustin Poirier via TKO at UFC 257.

Although Conor McGregor's venture into boxing put his rivalry with Tyron Woodley on the shelf for a while, Khabib Nurmagomedov's emergence as a force to reckon with was one of the single largest reasons for the UFC's failure to put McGregor-Woodley fight together. McGregor's fierce rivalry and a loss against Khabib has kept him interested in the lightweight title for over two years while the welterweight division caught up with the once-dominant Tyron Woodley resulting in his ousting from the top of the heap.

The fight between Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor is an interesting stylistic match-up and would still generate a lot of hype with or without a belt on the line.

Published 07 Feb 2021
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