When Conor McGregor steps into a boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26, he cannot kick, he cannot tackle – he cannot do anything that a UFC fighter would do that a boxer wouldn’t.
But what if he gets tagged a couple of times and, without thinking, reverts to his instincts? What if he reverts to what he knows, kicks Mayweather, and loses money as a result?
“I think he does go back to what he knows, but Conor, what he knows is his hands,” UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s never been a guy that’s kicked well anyway. He does a lot of flashy kicks and it looks good for TV, but who has he ever knocked out with a kick? He’s not a wrestler. He’s not going to go for a takedown.”
Woodley does not believe McGregor will beat Maywather, but he does think the fight is good for both sports. That said, he won’t be surprised if McGregor retires from UFC after the fight.
“I think they need him to come back,” Woodley said of UFC, “but when you let somebody go out there and make $75, $100, $110, $115 million, do you want to come back and fight for $20, $15 million?”
Woodley added that he would potentially be interested in fighting boxer Andre Ward.
“I’ve always wanted to train with Andre Ward,” Woodley said. “He’s a complete stud. I’ve always wanted to spar with him. I would probably rather train with him, but if there’s money on the table, I don’t think him or I is going to pass it up. So I would be all about it.”
In the meantime, Demian Maia will have to suffice. Woodley faces Maia at UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim, California.
Woodley, of course, is highly confident.
“I’m close to being the greatest welterweight that’s ever fought in the octagon,” he said. “I just want to stay focused, knock off this guy Demian Maia, hopefully down the road knock off Georges St-Pierre. One or two more wins, there will be no argument that I’m the best welterweight ever.”
Woodley also addressed comments he made to ESPN in January, when he said he’s the “worst-treated” champion in UFC history and that his “complexion” has something to do with it.
Brandon Tierney asked Woodley if he thinks the black athlete is being held down in 2017.
“No, I don’t feel like anybody is held down,” Woodley said. “What I actually said was I feel like I’m the worst-treated champion in the UFC roster. It wasn’t a black or white thing. I said sometimes I do feel like race becomes an issue in sport. Not the reason why I thought I was the worst-treated champion, and after that, obviously the UFC wanted to talk to me about what I meant.”
So Woodley gave examples of perceived injustices.
“They said, ‘Wow, you’re kind of right. How can we change this? What can we do differently?’” Woodley recalled. “I think when people go out here and they speak on race in sport, some people are just talking and talking because it sounds good to make a fuss. But I’m looking for a solution. I want my sons – I’ve got three boys – if they want to be an MMA fighter or professional athlete, that it’s different for them. They have to work hard regardless, but they shouldn’t have to work harder. They shouldn’t have to do more.
“I don’t think it’s about race,” Woodley continued. “Sometimes we have a preconceived notion about an African American athlete. This athlete is going to be athletic. He might not have the greatest conditioning. This athlete is going to be strong. He might not have the strongest skill set. He might not be suited to be quarterback. We got over that. We’ve seen things change, but sometimes people have a perception they don’t even recognize they have.
“It’s unfortunate because it’s not even the fact that people purposefully go out there and say, ‘I want to be racist today.’ . . . It’s not their reality because you never experience it. You’ve never been racist to someone yourself, so therefore you can’t imagine (someone being racist to someone else). But I’m telling you it goes on.”
Either way, Woodley no longer feels ignored by UFC.
“They don’t have a choice now because I’m everywhere,” Woodley said. “I’m winning, I’m tearing people up, I’m doing FOX, I’m doing movies, I’m (working) with other celebrities, actors, recording artists. What if Conor McGregor goes out there and this is his last fight? Who’s the biggest star in the UFC? You have to plant seeds.”
Woodley, 35, also weighed in on O.J. Simpson, who was paroled Thursday after nine years in prison.
“I cannot think he’s going to get out and not have a job,” Woodley said. “He’s going to be on reality shows. Everybody’s going to want to see it. You’re going to watch it, I’m going to watch it, we’re all going to watch it. . . . He’s always had that charisma.”