After facing Paul twice in the boxing ring — once on very short notice — the former UFC welterweight champion believes that Paul should return the favor and face him in the cage. Paul signed with the PFL with hopes that he’ll make his MMA debut sometime in late 2024 or early 2025 and Woodley wants his chance to avenge his past losses while competing in the sport that made him famous.
“I think if you’re going to fight anybody in MMA, you fight me in MMA,” Woodley told TMZ. “I’m the one that did the numbers with you. I’m the one that had the crazy millions and millions of views in the press conference. I’m the one that was a five-time champion. I’m the one that took the fight on two weeks’ notice.
“I was [filming] Cobra Kai for 14 hours straight. I trained at 3 a.m. and I saved that card. That card was not going to happen. People would not have been buying Christmas gifts had I not stepped up to the plate. So to talk about fighting anybody in MMA outside of me is disrespect.”
Woodley previously told MMA Fighting that it was Paul’s business partner Nakisa Bidarian who reached out to him while he was filming the Netflix series to approach him about replacing Tommy Fury after he couldn’t secure a visa to travel into the United States.
After dropping a split decision in their first encounter, Woodley was champing at the bit for a rematch so he accepted the challenge even if he essentially had one week to train before fight week began.
In the end, Paul scored a vicious knockout in the rematch but Woodley would love the chance to run it back in MMA and he believes that makes a lot more sense than his proposed showdown with Diaz.
“If you really, really want to prove that you can do it in my world, you fight the No. 1 guy in that world,” Woodley said. “Nate has never touched gold, never been close to gold ever. Either has [Derek] Brunson and I saw some other people barking. Everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon. You kind of sound like groupies. Everybody wants to fight Jake. Remember, I never asked to fight Jake. I was staying out the mix. I was cornering Ben Askren.
“They asked to fight me. Ben said ‘you should ask to fight Tyron.’ I wasn’t even focused on this kid. I wasn’t even thinking about boxing him and then the fight came to me. Even the second time around, they came to me and asked me to fill in because Tommy [Fury] couldn’t fight. I’m just the guy that stepped up and I stepped up in a major way.”
While Paul prepares for his eventual MMA debut, PFL founder Donn Davis went as far as offering a multi-million dollar contract to Diaz to accept the fight, although nothing has actually come together. Woodley doesn’t understand why he’s not even in consideration, especially when he considers his history with Paul and the two successful card they promoted together in boxing.
“MMA wise, the fact that we’re not even speaking about me fighting him, especially with my affiliation with the PFL, it’s kind of disrespectful,” Woodley said.
As much as Woodley would love to fight Paul again in MMA, he still gave his former opponent props on his continued success in boxing.
Woodley served as part of the broadcast team on DAZN for Paul’s latest win where he delivered a jaw-dropping first-round knockout over Andre August to move his overall record to 8-1 as a pro.
“I thought he did a great job,” Woodley said about Paul’s performance. “I literally said, ‘Hey man, Andre better watch ducking his head because he’s going to get hit with an up, I couldn’t even say uppercut. I just got the U-P off and then he was sending him to the moon.”