Jake Paul faces his toughest test to date when he steps into the ring with former UFC Champion Tyron Woodley and he’ll be hoping he doesn’t suffer the same fate as these guys…
Andre Galvao – Strikeforce: Diaz vs Noons II
Though he would earn a fearsome reputation during his career for his powerful counterpunching and explosiveness, Tyron Woodley was first exposed to mainstream audiences thanks to his background as a collegiate wrestler.
Before embarking on a career in the cage, Woodley was a two-time NCAA All-American in folkstyle wrestling, with his impressive pedigree making him an immediate prospect when he made his MMA debut in 2009.
After signing with Strikeforce and still in the early stages of his burgeoning MMA career, Woodley was matched up against Andre Galvao, one of the most decorated grapplers ever to compete in MMA.
In the fight, Galvao was relinquished to hopelessly attempting, and inevitably failing, to take Woodley down. Every time the Brazilian would attempt to close the distance, Woodley punished him with a barrage of punches on the inside, with the referee calling a stop to the fight less than two minutes into the first round.
While it may not have been as dramatic, nor as consequential, as some of Woodley’s later finishes, it serves as a first look at the power that would take The Chosen One all the way to UFC gold in the years to come.
Jay Hieron – UFC 156
Woodley’s journey through Strikeforce continued successfully following the Galvao fight, culminating in a shot at the vacant Strikeforce Welterweight Championship against the seasoned veteran, Nate Marquardt. After a competitive opening three rounds, Woodley found himself on the receiving end of a devastating knockout, bringing an end to his undefeated status.
After the fight, Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, and Woodley was one of the fighters transferred over to the UFC’s welterweight division. Making his promotional debut at UFC 156, and seemingly determined to prove his status as a contender, Woodley faced Jay Hieron.
With his opportunity to make his mark in the world’s largest MMA promotion hanging in the balance, Woodley immediately took the centre of the Octagon, and, after a brief feeling out process, charged towards his opponent.
Surging forward with his overhand right, Woodley clipped Hieron behind the ear, immediately dropping his opponent to the canvas, and charged forward for the kill. Hieron attempted desperately to halt the onslaught but Woodley was relentless, landing devastating ground and pound and putting Hieron out cold.
Dong Hyun Kim – UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs Le
In a fight that would later serve as his first step towards finally capturing UFC gold, Woodley faced perennial welterweight contender Dong Hyun Kim. The South Korean came into the fight riding a four-fight win streak, with a knockout of the year contender in his most recent outing against John Hathaway.
(Seriously, if you haven’t seen that fight do yourself a favour and check it out.)
The early portion of the bout saw the two men engage in some clinch wrestling along the fence before quickly returning to striking distance in the centre of the Octagon. Clearly inspired by the successes of his spinning strikes against Hathaway, Kim then rushed forward, attempting to connect with a spinning back elbow.
Woodley was wise to his opponent’s technique, however, and anticipated the strike by perfectly timing a massive overhand right to connect just as Kim’s back was facing him.
The strength of the strike immediately face planted the South Korean fighter and Woodley pounced on his opportunity to end the fight, landing several heavy shots and forcing the referee to intervene.
Josh Koscheck – UFC 167
For those who weren’t watching MMA during this time period, try to think of Josh Koscheck as a kind of proto-Colby Covington. Both are fantastically skilled wrestlers with serviceable striking skills in the Octagon, but the true similarities emerge in their ability to really get underneath their opponents’ skin and rustle feathers.
However, unlike the Tyron Woodley Colby Covington feud that didn’t exactly end how most T-Wood fans might have liked, Woodley was much more successful in decisively ending his feud with Koscheck in the Octagon.
After the bell sounded, Koscheck effectively utilised his pressure to force Woodley against the cage. However, as so many other fighters would also go on to find out, Woodley is at his most dangerous when against the fence with enough space to detonate his nuclear right hand.
An oncoming Koscheck dove straight into Woodley’s signature weapon and immediately stumbled to the ground. With the momentum of the fight now squarely in his favour, Woodley then landed one of the most picture-perfect 1-2’s imaginable on a prone Koscheck that immediately rendered him unconscious.
Robbie Lawler – UFC 201
With seven UFC fights under this belt, and an impressive win over Kelvin Gastelum in his most recent outing, Woodley finally got his opportunity to capture the sport’s biggest prize in the main event of UFC 201 against veteran champion Robbie Lawler.
Robbie Lawler’s reign as UFC Welterweight Champion saw him preside over some of the most violent bouts in the division’s history, so it was only fitting that the legend went out on his shield defending his belt in the Octagon.
The fight started uncharacteristically tentatively for a Robbie Lawler fight, with both men showing respect to the knockout power the other clearly possessed.
After the pair were separated for inactivity against the cage, Woodley feinted a jab to get Lawler moving backwards. The champion obliged, and as he attempted to move back towards the cage, Woodley connected with his overhand right, dropping Lawler and bringing an end to the fight.
Although Woodley’s vaunted punching power would only be seen in glimpses during his reign as champion following his fight, what is clear is that he still possesses a devastatingly powerful right hand. The one question that remains is: Can he land that right hand against Jake Paul on August 28th?
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