After his knockout of former UFC fighter Ben Askren this past April, many fans were calling for Jake Paul to step up his level of competition and fight a trained boxer. Instead, Paul settled on a fight with former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
On one hand, Woodley isn't the boxing lifer who will provide answers to how the social media influencer's skills stack up as an actual prospect. On the other, Woodley is far and away the most dangerous opponent of Paul's young career -- an accomplished combat sports champion with serious knockout power.
For those interested in attending the circus on Sunday night but who aren't familiar with Woodley, let's take a look at a few things to know.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including the top storylines to follow for Paul vs. Woodley below.
Woodley is one of the UFC's all-time best welterweights
There was a push by the UFC during Woodley's run as welterweight champion to call him arguably the greatest welterweight in the history of the promotion. That was never true, with at least Georges St-Pierre ranking above him on any reasonable all-time list. It has become even less true with the dominant reign of current division champion Kamaru Usman. That said, it is certainly a fact that Woodley is one of the best 170-pound fighters to ever set foot in the Octagon.
After a 3-2 start to his UFC career, Woodley went on a 6-0-1 run that included a knockout win over UFC legend Robbie Lawler to win the championship. He would go on to successfully retain the belt in four fights before a one-sided loss to Usman.
There's no denying that Woodley had a highly successful career and a title reign that was more than enough to legitimately place him among the elite of the elite in welterweight history, even if he isn't the 170-pound G.O.A.T.
His best fighting days are in the past
No matter how elite Woodley once was, those days came to a close against Usman. While there's no shame in losing to Usman, Woodley was completely ineffective in the fight. Usman outstruck Woodley 336 to 60 in total strikes and 141 to 34 in significant strikes. The fight felt like the chickens coming home to roost on Woodley's passive offensive style that had led to 22% of his professional bouts to end in by draw, split or majority decision.
Woodley would end his UFC career after four straight losses, all but the last sporting the same lopsided statistics.
|Result||Woodley significant strikes||Opponent significant strikes|
Kamaru Usman def. Woodley via decision
Gilbert Burns def. Woodley via decision
Colby Covington def. Woodley via decision
Vicente Luque def. Woodley via submission
Powerful striking but low output
Woodley's striking is one of his greatest tools and one of his biggest weaknesses. He has true one-punch knockout power, which he also has seemed to fall in love with to the detriment of some of his other skills. Many of Woodley's fights saw him with his back to the cage, allowing his opponent to open up with strikes while trying to unleash his heavy right hand. As age started to catch up with Woodley, that style started to work less, up until he was able to give Luque a hard fight for four minutes in his final UFC bout.
Woodley's tendency to find himself in close fights on the scorecards was largely a product of a low output style. Without the threat of utilizing his solid wrestling game, Woodley will have even fewer openings to land the right hand he has leaned so heavily on throughout his MMA career.
Being the smaller man, without his wrestling game to lean on and with a history of a passive approach to striking, it's a big ask for Woodley to step in the ring with Paul and score the upset.
Who wins Paul vs. Woodley? And what prop should you back for a huge return? Visit SportsLine now to see Brandon Wise's best bets for Sunday, all from the CBS combat sports specialist who was all over Jamel Herring's win, and find out.