Sean Woodson took a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series on just five days’ notice and earned a UFC contract with a highlight-reel finish. Earlier this month, Woodson made his UFC debut in Boston against Kyle Bochniak and performed as if he had been fighting in the Octagon for years.
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After an incredible 2019, Woodson has his eye on another tough, gritty UFC veteran.
“The Sniper” picked up a unanimous decision win over Bochniak at UFC Boston and, along with Brendan Allen, gave this past season of the Contender Series a little added street cred. The 27-year-old Missouri native is only looking for the toughest fights he can get which leads him wanting to share the Octagon with Steven Peterson.
“Yes, 1,000 percent [that’s the fight I want],” Woodson told The Body Lock. “I know how this works. I’ve been watching for a long time and they always ask who you want next. I was trying to think about it and I was watching the UFC Mexico City fight live, saw that [spinning back fist] knockout, and instantly I was like, ‘That guy!’ That’s who I want to fight for sure.
“I started looking up all his past fights and, just like Bochniak, he brings it. He comes forward. This is the fight I want really bad, out of respect though. I love his fighting style. I want that fight bad.”
2019: the year of evolution and limitless potential
After taking the short notice fight on the Contender Series against Terrance McKinney and landing one of the many flying knee knockouts of the season, Woodson was waiting for his opportunity to shine in the hallowed Octagon. With the UFC coming to Boston in October, Kyle Bochniak was looking to get back in the cage and fight in front of his hometown fans at the TD Garden.
The stars aligned perfectly for Woodson to showcase his skills. Bochniak was looking to get back on track, Woodson was looking to build his profile. Not only that, Woodson wanted to show his limitless potential as a fighter, as well as take his many years of visualizing himself as a UFC fighter to reality.
“It’s exactly how I expected and, that alone, has made me so happy,” Woodson said. “I’ve always been a calm, cool, collected guy every time that I fight, but leading up to this one, I was a little more nervous than usual. I’ve been in that Octagon a million times in my head. I’ve visualized it so much and I had a good idea of how I thought it was going to be, but you never know. When my music played and I started walking out there in front of the lights and the cameras, I was so happy and relieved that it was just how I imagined it. I knew I was ready for this, I knew I was meant to do this and I had so much fun out there.”
Bochniak is never in a boring fight, regardless of opponent. “Crash” made his UFC debut on just days notice against Charles Rosa at UFC Fight Night 81 in January 2016. After defeating Brandon Davis at UFC 220 last January, Bochniak would get the opportunity to face surging contender Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC 223. Despite the unanimous decision loss, Bochniak would become a fan-favorite due to his grit, determination and toughness.
Woodson was well aware of how tough Bochniak would be in his quest to be the first to finish the Massachusetts native. Although he knew what he was getting into for his UFC debut, Woodson was even more surprised at the toughness Bochniak brought to his backyard in a fight he learned an awful lot from.
“I knew that dude was tough going into it,” Woodson said. “I knew he was over-the-top tough, but even going in there knowing that, he ended up being even tougher than I thought. I wanted to be the first guy to finish him. I felt like I was really close but that dude has a chin like no other. Right after the fight, I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get the finish, but now that I went back and looked at it, overall, I’m extremely happy with my debut.
“A couple of those knees I hit him with, he was rocked but it was literally only for a split second. I’ve been doing this a long time; I know when you rock somebody and they’re still a little cloudy, or a little wobbly. He would be rocked and recover so fast. If I had to take one thing away from the fight that I will definitely work on, it’s that I was too worried about the takedown. I don’t really know why because I have a good ground game. I have jiu-jitsu, I train it every day, but I was a little too worried about the takedown. He shot for 15 takedowns so I know he was looking for the moment to slip under my punches. But he was the toughest opponent I’ve ever fought. My Contender Series fight, the knee I landed on that guy didn’t even compare to the knee I landed on Bochniak. The knee that I hit [Terrance McKinney] with put him out. The knees I landed on Kyle were harder than the Contender Series one, and he ate it.”
Working with James Krause and Glory MMA
Following the booking of the UFC Boston bout with Bochniak, Woodson made a trip for the first time to Glory MMA and Fitness in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to get a different look. There is certainly no shortage of UFC talent in that room, including the likes of Grant Dawson, Megan Anderson, and Zak Cummings, but UFC welterweight — and head coach — James Krause was a catalyst in making the trip from St. Louis to Lee’s Summit a regular thing on the weekends.
Krause has won three straight, and five out of his last six, as he prepares to return to action Nov. 16 in Brazil against Sergio Moraes. Krause was a huge and calming influence during Woodson’s first UFC fight week, leading Woodson to believe that Krause isn’t just an underrated fighter, but quite possible the most underrated coach in MMA.
“I swear, almost every time I see this dude, we have the same talk,” Woodson explained. “He has a fight coming up in November in Brazil, and we were talking about that on the trip, but I always tell him, ‘Man, you are so slept on and underrated,’ and most guys don’t understand how good that dude is. I think he’s about to really make some noise soon. It’s kind of like Jorge Masvidal: how long did it take for Masvidal to get the credit he deserves? I think the same thing is about to happen with Krause.
“He says that he feels he’s a better coach than he is a fighter. He’s an amazing coach. He really does a great job getting the best out of people. For Krause to say that he’s a better coach then he is a fighter, that is huge to me because I know how good of a fighter he is. It’s crazy, just crazy.”
Building upon 2019’s success
Sean Woodson is 7-0 and as professional fighter and has no signs of slowing down. Between losing his father recently, a hero of his, getting on the Contender Series on less than a week’s notice and having a successful UFC debut, 2019 will go down as a pivotal chapter in the Sean Woodson biography.
With a 2-0 campaign in 2019, in an ideal world, Woodson would like to return to action in January — preferably against Peterson, although he is prepared to sign the dotted line against any featherweight that is willing to share the cage with him.
“This year probably won’t happen but I want to return first thing next year,” Woodson stated. “If I had it my way it would be January. I would like January or February if I can get that.”