Dana White takes shot at UFC champ Tyron Woodley, doesn’t rule out interim title fight

UFC President Dana White is less than thrilled with welterweight champion Tyron Woodley but very pleased with Ben Askren, which could have major ramifications on the title picture.

On Friday night during a session with reporters backstage at UFC 231 ceremonial weigh-ins in Toronto, White expressed frustration about not securing a title fight between Woodley and Colby Covington for UFC 233 on Jan. 26.

“So, you know what happens?” White said. “The world moves on without you, boys.”

What that means, though, isn’t clear. Earlier Friday, Kamaru Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, hinted at a potential interim title fight between his client and Askren. This came one day after Covington, who may or may not still be interim champion, told MMAjunkie that he wouldn’t settle for anything less than an undisputed title fight against Woodley.

The situation is murky, to say the least. The one thing that’s clear, according to White, is that Woodley is to blame.

“When is Woodley ready to fight anybody, ever? Tell me when,” White said. “Yeah (he just fought three months ago), and it took us forever to get him to fight that fight. He never wants to fight. You want to be a world champion, but you don’t want to fight anybody. That’s a problem.”

Woodley is coming off a second-round submission win over Darren Till in September at UFC 228. It was Woodley’s first fight in nearly 14 months because of injury. As it turns out, Woodley is injured again with a thumb issue that required surgery, ruling out Jan. 26 as a possibility for his return.

White said he believes Woodley’s injury is real, but that didn’t stop him from digging at the champion.

“He just came out on his real job, TMZ, and said that he was looking for February or something like that, and we said no. We didn’t say no,” White said. “When Tyron Woodley wants to fight we don’t say no. So that wasn’t true, and if you notice TMZ took that clip down because that wasn’t true. It was absolutely not true, and they took it down.

“What’s going to happen now are these interviews are going to come out, and he’s going to get all pissed off, ‘This guy doesn’t respect me, and he doesn’t do this and that,’ and all that (expletive). That’s what’s going to happen now, and me and Woodley are going to go at it again, and then we’ll see when the guy ends up fighting.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Askren. As it currently stands, the former ONE Championship and Bellator titleholder is set to make his promotional debut against Robbie Lawler at UFC 233. White, however, wouldn’t rule out switching things up.

That could affect Askren in a positive way, perhaps with an interim title fight. White, who has clashed with Askren in the past, had nothing but good things to say about “Funky’s” attitude since he joined the UFC in late October.

“All this time Ben Askren and I have had this thing. This guy wants to fight everybody. I love it,” White said. “I love guys – especially in the 170-pound division. The breath of fresh air when you have a guy that wants to fight everybody. I like it. I like his attitude, and I like where his head’s at, and a guy like that is going to make it far in this company.”

As for how Lawler, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in January, would handle a late change, White indicated it wouldn’t be a big deal.

“I don’t know. Robbie Lawler’s still recovering from his knee and can’t do anything earlier than the date he has already. So we’ll see,” White said. “I don’t know. I don’t think Robbie Lawler is too concerned by being affected by this thing. The more time he can get, the better.”

For more on UFC 233, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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