Fresh from a blistering second-round finish of Darren Till six months earlier, Woodley was closing in on three years as the UFC welterweight champion, and as he prepared to face Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, there was plenty of talk about “The Chosen One” joining the conversation as the best 170-pound fighter of all-time.
“I do remember being ready for it,” Woodley said of the lead-up to what he hoped would be his fifth successful title defense. “I felt good when I walked out, I felt good when we tapped gloves and I told myself, just go out there and hit him as hard as you can. Let him feel it so he knows who’s the alpha male. And we got close, and I’m like, okay, it’s time to go and I just felt like a battery pack got snatched out of my back.”
There probably isn’t a better description for how Woodley fought that night against Usman. Sure, “The Nigerian Nightmare” put in a dominant five-round performance as he shut Woodley out and took the belt, but the Missouri native just wasn’t there. Listless, seemingly unconcerned or unable to pull the trigger, it was a far cry from the fighter who had already dominated much of the weight class.