UFC welterweight Dwight Grant (9-2) certainly did not expect Kamaru Usman to defeat Tyron Woodley in the manner that he did last month.
Heading into the bout, Woodley was a heavy favorite as he was set to defend his welterweight title against Usman in the co-main event of UFC 235.
However, it was “The Nigerian Nightmare” who completely dominated Woodley over the course of five rounds, eventually becoming the new champion after the judges scored it 50-44, 50-45 and 50-44.
A different Woodley
Tyron Woodley later claimed he didn’t recognize himself when rewatching the fight and Grant agrees, having expected “The Chosen One” to explode at least once in the fight like he’s done in the past.
“No, I didn’t see it coming,” Grant told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko.
“It’s no knock on Usman but anybody that fights, you’re going to expect them to behave the way they do. When you kind of compare those two things, you would have thought that Woodley would have been a little more active in the fight and done more.”
“Go all out kind of stuff or even if people are trying to say his fighting style wasn’t great, which I think is not true at all, I’ve been watching Woodley fight since he was in Strikeforce, he’s a great competitor. Any fight where you can say he didn’t perform well in, you saw him explode and do some craziness. So I expected that at some point in the fight, I was waiting for it even till the last second. But I definitely didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure.”
Deserving of a rematch
Given Woodley’s relationship with the UFC brass, it was always going to be a tough task for him to get an instant rematch, and he is now facing Robbie Lawler next in June.
Usman, meanwhile, is expected to defend his title for the first against former interim champion Colby Covington.
When asked if Covington deserved to face Usman next, Grant had his reservations as he believes Woodley deserved to get an instant rematch. In turn, he also feels it would be better for Usman as he could say he defeated the champion at 100 percent.
“I mean, deserves it? I would have liked to see Woodley get his title rematch back because he had it for so long. He’s been competing and doing great as a champion, so I would have liked to see him get that fight back. But also because of the way it happened and how it played out afterward, you just felt like as a fan, you didn’t get to see the champ express himself as champ.”
“Usman too, he wants to fight and say he beat the best Woodley. I don’t know what he’s thinking but I think anybody who loves fighting, when you beat the champion, you want to beat them in a way where you can say ‘I beat this guy at his best.’”
“So I would like to see that but Covington, you want to see him fight because everybody wants to see him get beat up to be honest. Whether Usman does it or Woodley would be good but I would rather see Woodley do it because they had a personal stake involved, talking back-and-forth so that would be a little more satisfying.”
Grant wanting a top 15 opponent
Meanwhile, Grant is looking to knock on the door of the top 15. The American Kickboxing Academy product is fresh off a TKO win over Carlo Pedersoli Jr. in February and will be in action at UFC 236 later this month when he takes on Alan Jouban.
The fight particularly excites him because Jouban is a notable name in the division, and while Grant has names on his wishlist from the top 15, he acknowledges that it will be hard to get fights with them until he makes a bigger name for himself.
“Of course [I have guys I want to fight in the top 15], just like everyone who sits at home and watches [the UFC], I’ve been watching it too. And I’ve been watching guys and I’m like ‘yeah, I want to fight that guy.’ But the thing about it is these guys don’t want to fight you until you become like a reasonable opponent where it makes sense for them to fight you.”
“You’re not supposed to fight every single competitor that just pops up out of the blue. I understand that, but I want to get to the point where, when I do want to fight someone out of the blue, they’re like ‘yeah, I want to fight that guy.’ And I can just get a bunch of fights with the top guys all the time. I obviously want to be champion but the best thing about being champion to me, is you get to fight all the best guys all the time. But definitely, I have people I want to fight on the top part of the rankings.”
Grant takes on Jouban on the main card of UFC 236 which takes place April 13 in Atlanta, Georgia.
You can see the rest of the interview below:
Combat sports fan who loves a good lead elbow and body shot.