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Why wasn’t St. Louis native Tyron Woodley booked on Strikeforce’s show last weekend?

By Zach Arnold | May 18, 2010

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I was watching this video interview that Sherdog did with Tyron Woodley last Saturday in St. Louis. That same night, Strikeforce ran their second ever event in St. Louis at the big 19,000 Scottrade Center, which used to be known as the Savvis Center or the Kiel Center. You don’t run that building because you are booking a modest show — you run that building because you want to do some serious numbers. The two times Strikeforce has ran that building, they’ve drawn around 8,000 both times. They went with a local draw in Robbie Lawler on the top of the card on the first event and for the second event they had Jesse Finney book the undercard. (This has become quite the topic de jour today on our site.)

One person who is a St. Louis native who could have helped out with business on the show was Tyron Woodley. He’s a guy who has been touted by Scott Coker as one of their big prospects and a guy who could make some noise in the Welterweight division. So, given that situation, you would have thought that the perfect scenario would be to give Tyron Woodley a platform for exposure on a main card slot for the St. Louis show that took place over the weekend and aired on Showtime.

However, you would be wrong. Woodley didn’t get booked for the St. Louis show and instead, he now finds himself taking a Challengers show booking in Portland where he will face Team Quest fighter Nathan Coy. In other words, Woodley had a chance to come off as a big star on Showtime on the St. Louis card. Instead, he got booked a week later for a Challengers show at the Rose Garden in Portland where he will face a fighter who will get a hometown pop.

Here is what Woodley had to say about fighting Coy on Friday:

“I haven’t done a ton of scouting for him. I’m really blessed, I’ve trained with Nate, I’ve trained with Nate three, four, maybe five times. I was considering joining Team Quest at one point so I made two, three trips out to Portland. I trained with him and the good luxury about that is when he trained with me is when I first got into professional MMA. If he’s game-planning off that memory and game-planning off of what he remembers then he’s up creek because I’m a completely different fighter, I hold myself completely different way but one thing I did find out about him is that he’s really tough, he’s going to be scrappy, he’s going to come hard, he’s going to try to clinch and dirty box and ground ‘n pound and I know that about him, so he can change his game as much as he wants but the core things of his game are still going to be to get close to me, to clinch me, to try to put me on the ground, to try to ground ‘n pound me, so I have a lot to work with and I don’t have to watch as much film because I know that, I know the things to neutralize that and to you know basically impose my will and my style upon him and that’s what I plan on doing for 15 minutes.”

Sherdog hyped up this interview with Tyron Woodley on their web site because of the comments he made about wanting to fight Nick Diaz.

“I personally think you know looking at the roster, looking at the Welterweights, I personally think I’m the only person in the 170 division whose style is a nightmare for Nick Diaz. You know I look at everybody’s else style, he’s able to immediately get into their heads before they, they lose the fights before they go out there. His cardio is always top-notch. His volume is high, you know people aren’t prepared for that stuff, you know my strongest suit is my mental game, you know, to not even allow that to happen is a huge advantage to me so you know to be honest any opponent that’s not leading me towards that belt, right now he has the belt. I don’t think it’s cocky to say you want to fight the person with the belt because I don’t train just to train or fight just to fight, I train to be a champion so I believe that belt he’s wearing is something I need to bring my side and anybody that’s going to lead me to there is a worthy opponent. If they’re not leading me to there, I don’t want to fight them, I don’t want to talk about them, don’t put them in front me and if it’s not somebody that’s logically leading me to fight Diaz soon, then you know I’m not even interested in them.”

However, there was something from this interview that I thought was a more curious takeaway than the talk about Nick Diaz. Take a look at what Tyron said about not being on the St. Louis show for Strikeforce:

“I don’t really have a distinct answer for that question but I think you know we had some opponents on the table, you know I accepted every last one of them and I thought I was going to get a chance you know last year I fought here in June on the under card, I had to fight my way to get on there, I had to sell tickets and the whole nine just to get on the Strikeforce card and I figured it would be a good story, a year later you come back to your home again, you’re on the main card this time but you know I guess didn’t happen for a reason. You know my eyes are focused on Nathan Coy. I’m in it for the long haul and I think my future’s huge so I have to think you know whether I’m fighting in a white castle box or a top of a table or it’s a professional fight, I got to prepare accordingly so I kind of blurred that out.”

When I heard him say this, my focus halted right there. Here’s why — the practice of having a bunch of undercard guys sell tickets or get paid off by promoters in tickets and not so much by a decent salary is something you see all the time in professional wrestling or other fighting events. However, it’s a practice that is looked down upon because it comes across as low-rent and it doesn’t across as major. Plus, it makes the promoter look lazy because if you’re paying off an under card guy in tickets, you’re relying on him to do your dirty work.

Now, I understand this business practice happens on independent shows and smaller-scale shows. That’s one thing. It’s another thing for a promotion that no longer views itself as a “regional promotion” to be running shows nationally on Showtime and to have guys “sell tickets.” If what Tyron Woodley said is true, that’s not the kind of thing you want people hearing about in terms of your promotion.

I already anticipate the blowback response to this — “Well, the big boxing shows have the top fighters get blocks of tickets and they make millions off of them when they sell them to scalpers!” You know and I know that there’s a big difference between giving a bunch of tickets to someone like Floyd Mayweather versus having someone like Tyron Woodley on a St. Louis show for Strikeforce have to “sell tickets” and “the whole nine (yards)” in order to get booked. Luckily for Scott Coker, Tyron’s a dedicated, hungry guy and actually did the dirty work to make it to where he is at right now.

Thankfully, he’s also not a fighter who feels pressure for being talked about as being one of Strikeforce’s golden boys.

“Not for real, you know, for me I’ve trained like a champion you know my mind is there, my heart’s there and I don’t make it just a personal lifestyle, I live this. When I wake up in the morning everything I’m doing is for my mission, you know, and right now Challengers, Strikeforce, main card, CBS, whatever the stage or platform is, I’ve got to be prepared you know because I feel like it’s a higher purpose for me doing this, you know. The kids can see a guy that trains hard, that lives right, you can be good, you know it’s nothing with wrong saying you’re good. You train hard, you put in the work, you’re going to have some success so I think people need to see that. So much entertainment in MMA, so much antics, so much this and that, people need to see that you know it’s OK to be stick with guns, stick with your integrity, still do well, and you know represent the sport with some integrity and that’s what I’m here for.”

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “Why wasn’t St. Louis native Tyron Woodley booked on Strikeforce’s show last weekend?”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Coker is a cancer on the sport.

  2. Jason Harris says:

    At the risk of sounding like a troll, everything SF does screams of a low-rent company that happened into a few big partners. I don’t want SF to go away, the more MMA I can watch the better, but they seem to be doing a godawful job of managing, well, everything about a fight org.

  3. Zach, is there any reason you didn’t contact SF to get clarification on the quote?

    Ed. — The times I’ve tried to reach out directly to SF, I’ve failed to get responses (both past and present). I get the PR mostly from Showtime and when I’ve had to contact the PR staff they’ve answered before (on issues such as audio recordings of conference calls), but that’s the extent of the communication I can get. I know SF’s PR person is in contact with Sherdog and appears on their radio show, but I haven’t been able to get any direct response before.

  4. David says:

    I was SO shocked to hear that come out of his mouth as well! Had to hustle just to get on the show, that’s foul!!!

    I believe that this says more about the promotion (including not booking Woodley for his hometown) and the direction it is heading than any of the Showtime or M-1 deals.

  5. Chromium says:

    There are so many things StrikeForce screws up these days I don’t even know if it’s worth it to focus on something minor like that. They have become to MMA what TNA is to professional wrestling. All this potential, and a real opportunity to be a true alternative product, and yet they keep fucking it up and end up mostly being an inferior version of the UFC.

  6. Five Ounces of Fluff says:

    I’d estimate at least a quarter to a third of the crowd was there for the local fighters. I did think it was odd that when a local fighter came out a certain section would cheer very loudly and then when the opponent came out his cheering section was exactly on the opposite side of the arena. The local fighters did a lion’s share of the work in my opinion. That’s why I thought it was funny when Breen was bashing the undercard and Finney booking it. If it wasn’t for the local guys fighting there would have only been 5,000 or less people in attendace I’d assume.

    This kind of practice is pretty normal for organizations in the midwest. That’s why you’ll see events with more than 20 fights on the card, not because the consumer wants the value of watching 6-8 hours of crappy fights. Rather the promoters have twice as many people as normal selling their tickets. They also generally don’t book the best fighters, they book the guys who sell the most tickets. I’ve heard good fighters told that since they’re not willing to sell tickets they won’t get booked to fight.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      This kind of practice is pretty normal for organizations in the midwest. That’s why you’ll see events with more than 20 fights on the card, not because the consumer wants the value of watching 6-8 hours of crappy fights. Rather the promoters have twice as many people as normal selling their tickets. They also generally don’t book the best fighters, they book the guys who sell the most tickets. I’ve heard good fighters told that since they’re not willing to sell tickets they won’t get booked to fight.

      I’m glad you said this because you just made my point for me. Scott Coker in interviews talks about how he is a national promotion and not a regional promotion any more, but yet what he did here is exactly what an independent or smaller promotion does with the tickets-as-currency ploy.

  7. ULTMMA says:

    To piggy back on why Woodley doesn’t want to sell tickets below is a quote from a story about a prospect Woodley currently manages named Mike Chandler. Chandler fought on the undercard of SF STL and it sounds like he needed to sell tickets to do so.

    Last summer, just several months out of college and after relatively little MMA training, Chandler jumped right into pro fighting and won his debut. Since, Woodley has worked to guide the younger fighter with what he called star potential to similar success that Woodley has enjoyed.

    “We can’t do any more undercard shows; I promised him he wouldn’t have to sell tickets again if he didn’t want to,” said Woodley (6-0), who will have Chandler in his corner when he faces Nathan Coy at Friday’s Strikeforce Challengers 8 event in Portland, Ore. “No one will match this guy’s intensity, and I’ve been telling them all that. They saw it last weekend. They saw what he can do.”


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