Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley wants to get back in the Octagon as quickly as possible and work toward getting his belt back, but it looks like that won't happen until at least August. That is Woodley's timetable, if he can get cleared to return.
Woodley lost the UFC welterweight belt to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in early March. He had been scheduled to headline the upcoming UFC on ESPN 3 fight card opposite Robbie Lawler on June 29 in Minneapolis, Minn. That bout was sidelined, however, when Woodley had to withdraw because of lingering issues with his right hand.
Woodley severely dislocated his thumb in a fight with Darren Till in September of 2018. He had surgery to repair the injury, but it hasn't healed as well as expected. In meeting with a hand specialist recently, he learned why the injury has continued to plague him.
"The hand specialist looked at the x-ray and the MRI and said I have chronic arthritis in my joint (in my thumb). There are three joints that allow me to grab and grip. One has chronic arthritis and (another) has severe arthritis," Woodley explained on a recent edition of The Hollywood Beatdown on TMZ.
He explained that the doctor couldn't give him a permanent fix that wouldn't severely limit him in the Octagon, so Woodley is targeting temporary solutions that allows him to continue his career while mitigating the pain from the arthritis.
"The temporary fix is to rehab it. Get it stronger. Get the flexibility to where we can actually start to grab and grip. And then, ten days before the fight, try to do a cortisone shot," Woodley explained.
"So, I have the UFC checking on dates in cities, states, that actually allow you to have a cortisone shot."
What is Tyron Woodley's timetable for a UFC return?
With his better understanding of the health of his hand, Woodley can now target a more specific timeframe for a return. He wants to get back to the belt as quickly as possible, so he said he's hoping that the officials could book him as soon as UFC 241 on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, Calif., where Daniel Cormier is expected to put the UFC heavyweight belt on the line in a rematch with Stipe Miocic.
"I'm targeting maybe the Aug. 17 card in Anaheim. I just want my belt back," Woodley stated.
"I feel like I should have gotten the instant rematch (with Usman). We saw that didn't happen. Did I cry over spilled milk? No, I put myself in position to have the opportunity to perform."
If the UFC agrees and tries to put Woodley on the UFC 241 fight card in California, it appears that there is a path for him to fight there with the cortisone injection that he's seeking.
While USADA, which oversees the UFC's Anti-Doping Program, allows cortisone shots, not all state athletic commissions do the same. California, however, has a path to allow Woodley to get a therapeutic use exemption for the cortisone shot.
California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster confirmed to MMAWeekly.com on Friday that a fighter competing in his state could get a cortisone injection if doctors review and approve his request.
According to Woodley, UFC officials are waiting for him to first rehab the injury and train a little bit before putting him in a fight.
Tyron Woodley discusses injury, UFC return on TMZ Sports show
(Video courtesy of TMZSports | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)