After all, while Masvidal is clearly a top-level fighter and a member of the same American Top Team family as Woodley, could “The Chosen One” have been looking to bring Covington’s nemesis into camp to potentially cause, well, a little chaos?
Absolutely not, says Woodley.
“I don’t play games like that,” Woodley told MMA Junkie. “I’m a G. I’ve been in this game for a long time.”
In fact, Woodley said it wasn’t even his idea for Masvidal to come help with training. According to Woodley, Masvidal called up and said he was coming to St. Louis to put in work.
“It was that easy,” Woodley said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Ah, let’s freak him out,’ or rattle his cage, mental warfare. It was to train, and we trained our asses off.”
“T-Wood” and Masvidal’s relationship dates back several years, back to their shared time under the Strikeforce banner, so while seeing Masvidal pop up on Woodley’s social media feed may have been a surprise to some, the former UFC welterweight champ said it shouldn’t have been – and very well may happen again moving forward.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve done it, but we’ll do it again,” Woodley said.
But first, Woodley has the small matter of a headlining bout against Colby Covington (15-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 36. The card streams live on ESPN+ from UFC Apex.
It’s a big one for Woodley, who sits at No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings but has suffered through back-to-back losses for the first time in his professional career. Conventional wisdom states that if the 38-year-old can show up in vintage form, he’ll prove victorious. But if he’s actually lost a step and is on the decline, then the No. 2-ranked Covington will walk away with the win.
Woodley isn’t interested in discussing those potential theories.
“I mean if, if, if, if, if,” Woodley said. “You’re going to see on Saturday, and I don’t have to think about that. I know what I’m capable of. I know what I’ve trained to do, and that’s all I’m focused on.
“I’m focused on this fight. Not what happened before. Not what could happen after. It’s Saturday, and Saturday alone.”
And so it seems Masvidal’s presence wasn’t any kind of secret weapon to help get under Covington’s skin or an attempt at gaining any sort of special knowledge from a former training partner. Instead, Woodley said it was simply about getting in the best work possible, and for that, he said Masvidal was definitely the right man for the job.
“It was a blessing for him to do it,” Woodley said. “He didn’t even ask. He just said, ‘I’ll be there Monday,’ and we were in there.
“People see him as ‘three-piece and a soda’ and all that sh-t, but Masvidal is a gym rat. He’s in the gym, he’s in the gym, he’s in the gym. That’s why he was able to take a six-day notice fight against Kamaru Usman. It was a blessing to have him there, and I definitely have to thank him for coming through.”