Contract negotiations in the fight business can be a nasty power struggle. There are reasons that, for the biggest boxing bouts, it often feels like it takes years of two men fencing in the boardroom before they get to the point of actually fighting in the ring. In MMA, where individual fighters have far less power, promoters like the UFC are notorious for their ‘take it or leave’ it posture at the bargaining table.
Despite all that, it seems Tyron Woodley still had the capacity to be surprised. Speaking to on a recent episode of the MMA Hour, the former UFC champion and two-time Jake Paul opponent got into the weeds on a planned boxing bout against celebrity pugilist Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji, better known as simple ‘KSI’.
The YouTube personality and hip hop artist first rose to sporting notoriety in 2018 with an amateur bout against Logan Paul, followed one year later by a professional rematch. He entered the ring as an exhibition fighter in 2022 with a one-night, two-fight boxing event against fellow celebrity boxer Swarmz, and 2-7 ‘professional opponent’ Luis Alcaraz Pineda, defeating both men via KO. KSI has already started 2023 off with a bang, defeating social media personality FaZe Temperrr in a January 14th PPV.
It’s that last fight that has the focus of Woodley’s wrath. Apparently that Jan. 14th fight card was originally supposed to feature a double-billed headliner, with Logan Paul taking on Dillon Danis, and KSI taking on ‘The Chosen One’. Paul hurt his knee in a guest appearance with the WWE, however, and Danis vs. KSI became the fight to make instead (complete with its own tragicomic promotional incidents).
Woodley doesn’t want to sound bitter about losing out on the fight, but according to him, dealing with KSI’s team was a complete nightmare.
“The negotiation of the contract was very disrespectful, and it made me want to hurt him,” Woodley recalled (transcript via MMA Fighting). “So I told this to his manager. I was on a call with his manager and I said, ‘Never in my life have I been disrespected like this in a contract.’”
“So every advantage, they wanted,” Woodley said. “And this was terms that were added after we had already agreed. So we agreed, I got a contract, and they went, ‘Oh, I’m sorry to do this, but KSI’s trainer wants to add this hydration thing.’ So when I went out to Dubai, I got in his trainer’s face too, I said, ‘I’m going to weigh f***ing 187. Homicide, that’s what I’m going to weigh. I’m not weighing no 185, and your boy is going to get f***** up.’”
Despite his feelings of serious disrespect, however, it sounds like the longtime Roufusport talent knows he can’t get too heated over the whole thing. After all, he’s the guy who has actually won world titles and made a name for himself as a top-tier combat sports athlete.
“I kind of didn’t want to cry over spilled milk, because one thing I’ve got to recognize is that I’ve got to be careful with my legacy,” Woodley said. “I can’t be screaming and yelling and pounding to try to be able to fight these guys that are coming into it from a more entertainment standpoint, right? Especially with what I’ve done already in my career.”
All told, he just doesn’t understand why, once Danis dropped out of the fight and KSI needed a new opponent once again, Tyron Woodley wasn’t at the top of his list?
“KSI is athletic but I think he’s just a little fearful, because he can punch hard, but some people are used to being a hammer and not so much used to being the nail. He was going to be the nail in our fight, and I think him and his management staff knew that. If he wants to fight, it’s going to have to be double for my trouble.”
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