Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley was scheduled to face Leon Edwards at the now cancelled London event that was supposed to take place on March 21.
Edwards was forced to withdraw from the event when the promotion wanted to move it to the United States due to travel concerns surrounding COVID-19. Eventually the card was cancelled, leaving both fighters without a bout.
While the inclination could be to schedule the pairing for another card, Woodley’s manager Abe Kawa joined TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter for a Q & A on Tuesday and says his fighter is more interested in a fight with former title challenger Colby Covington, someone he was previously on a collision course to face anyway.
“He was never supposed to fight Leon, it was supposed to be Colby,” Kawa told Bronsteter. “Colby was injured, he had that thing in his jaw, that was the fight and that’s always been the fight. If Tyron beats Kamaru Usman, it was was going to be Tyron and Colby.”
Woodley dropped the belt to Usman via unanimous decision at UFC 235 in a fight that was put together after Covington was stripped of the interim welterweight title due to injury. Kawa believes the story plays out differently if Woodley meets Covington in that title fight.
“The Tyron/Usman fight happened because the Tyron/Colby fight didn’t happen, that was the fight, that’s the one where you would’ve seen a true killer in Tyron that night,” said Kawa. “It’s hard to get up for a guy like Usman, he’s not going to sell the fight, he doesn’t motivate the guys. A guy like Colby, you’re like, I cannot lose to this guy, this is the guy I can’t lose to, Tyron would’ve murdered him. I would love to have that fight get on the books, Colby vs. Tyron. There is a true beef there, it’s true hatred, not manufactured.”
The possibility of Woodley switching his focus to Covington has led many to say that he’s scared to face Edwards, a fighter that is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak. Kawa says that Woodley was ready to fight Edwards, but now he has to do what makes the most sense for himself going forward.
“These guys are fighters, but there is a business behind this, too,” said Kawa. “It’s not just, this guy called me out, so I’m going to go fight him tomorrow. We were scheduled to fight Leon, I’m not going to talk crap about any fighter, it’s not fair during this crisis, I could never tell a fighter ‘leave your family’ and there’s no telling when you’re going to get back home, but truth be told, that’s exactly what Tyron was going to do.
“He was going to jump on a plane, go to England and go fight Leon during this pandemic, leave his family. In the same breath when the tables were turned Leon said no, which is his right and I don't knock him for that. All of sudden, (perception is) Tyron wants to fight anyone not named Leon.”
For Kawa it’s not difficult to explain why Woodley would prefer a fight with Covington over one with Edwards.
“The Colby vs Tyron fight is a bigger fight, more fans want to see that,” said Kawa. “More of Tyron’s fans want to see him face Colby and more of Leon’s fans probably want to see Tyron vs. Colby than Leon vs. Tyron. It’s not rocket science.”