Tyron Woodley now won’t fight Kamaru Usman if Darren Till doesn’t make weight at UFC 228

LOS ANGELES – A little over one month ago, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley said he’d fight Darren Till regardless of whether the short-notice contender hit the 170-pound limit at UFC 228.

But Woodley apparently has had a change of heart. Today at a media luncheon in support of the Sept. 8 headliner, Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) said Till (17-0-1 MMA, 5-0-1 UFC) either makes weight, or he isn’t fighting anyone at the pay-per-view event – including backup Kamaru Usman (13-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC).

“It’s Till or no fight at all,” Woodley told reporters. “I don’t even know why they did that.”

Usman emerged as the promotion’s fallback plan should Till miss weight, agreeing to train and be ready for the title fight. Till missed the welterweight limit in his most recent fight, but got a title shot anyway.

Woodley, who accepted Till after interim champ Colby Covington (14-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) bowed out of the September fight, said the promotion’s decision to hire Usman as a contingency reflects poorly on the sport. He said he wouldn’t abide the choice by agreeing to an extremely short notice fight.

“Would I fight Usman? Yeah, I would fight Usman,” he said. “I would fight Usman on a full training camp. I’ll fight anybody on a full training camp. But I’m not that guy. This is not a circus to me.

“You’re not going to have me prepare for a 6-(foot)-3 striker southpaw, and then 24 hours before the fight, because this (expletive) missed weight and he’s unprofessional, now I’ve got to fight a 5-10 switch-stance wrestler. No – you’re not going to waste my time. You’re not going to waste my money that I forked into training camps. You’re not going to add this one crazy variable and make me feel like I’m the punk, or I’m the pansy, for not taking the fight. No. It’s not going to happen.

“So if he’s making money for making weight, congratulations. You got a couple of free bags. But when it comes down to the fight, Sept. 8, I’m fighting Darren Till. If he makes weight, he makes weight. If he doesn’t make weight, it’s not going to mentally disturb me.”

Woodley said he’s already ready to face Till and estimates he spent $50,000 to $60,000 of his money in training camp for the bout. He said fighting Usman would be to “blow that money down the drain.”

“How many times in the NCAA basketball tournament, or the NBA Playoffs, you see, ‘OK, you know what, Golden State can’t make it in – Cleveland, you’re back in the game,’” Woodley said. “You want us to be respected as a sport? You want us to be showcased with the other professional sports? Let’s start being professional again. It’s not bingo. 176 (pounds) today! It’s 170. If you can’t make it, move up (to middleweight).”

Woodley sympathizes with Till’s weight cut, which increasingly has made itself known in pre-fight interviews. Of Till’s public declarations of hating weight-cutting, Woodley said, “I think he’s just stepping on the scale, and the number that he saw is a real number.”

The champ said he went from walking around at 185 pounds at 25 to suddenly beefing up to 200 when he turned 26. He said Till could easily make a splash in the middleweight division, which is where the title challenger has said he’ll migrate after winning and defending the title.

“His body is going to be the body that’s beat up from cutting all that weight,” Woodley said. “He’s probably not doing it the right way. If anything, it’s going to be to my benefit that he doesn’t make weight.”

But it’s not going to be to the UFC’s benefit – that’s for sure.

For more on the upcoming UFC 228, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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