Tyron Woodley spent the better part of nine minutes zipping the lips of his critics.
Woodley successfully defended the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown and did so in sublime fashion, as he submitted Darren Till with a second-round brabo choke in the UFC 228 headliner on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Till bowed out 4:19 into Round 2, the Englishman tasting defeat for the first time in his 19-fight career.
Following a slow-paced an uneventful first round, Woodley dropped the hammer. The two-time NCAA All-American wrestler floored Till with a right hand, moved into top position and assaulted him with punches and elbows, one of which opened a cut near the hairline. To his credit, the challenger remained lucid despite enduring a hellacious beating that seemed to go on forever. However, Woodley framed the choke, put Till in a vice and squeezed for the finish, executing his first submission in nearly eight years.
In the aftermath of UFC 228 “Woodley vs. Till,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Related » UFC 228: By the Numbers
Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington: Woodley, now 36, has never looked better. The Duke Roufus and Din Thomas understudy has gone 6-0-1 in seven outings since his June 2014 decision loss to current Bellator MMA champion Rory MacDonald, posting wins over Till, Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, Kelvin Gastelum and Dong Hyun Kim while locking down a spot among the sport’s pound-for-pound best. A showdown with one of MMA’s most reviled villains looms as his reign atop the division approaches the 800-day mark. Covington has won six fights in a row, including the five-round decision over Rafael dos Anjos that brought him the interim welterweight title at UFC 225 in June.
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas: Andrade did everything within her power to establish herself as the clear No. 1 contender at 115 pounds. The Parana Vale Tudo cornerstone knocked out Karolina Kowalkiewicz with a crushing right hook in the first round of their co-main event, capping a career-defining performance with the ultimate exclamation point. A semi-conscious Kowalkiewicz hit the deck 1:58 into Round 1. No follow-up shots were necessary, the Pole reduced to tears once the fog cleared. With consecutive wins over Kowalkiewicz, Tecia Torres and Claudia Gadelha in her back pocket, Andrade appears headed for another crack at the strawweight championship. Namajunas last fought at UFC 223, where she retained the 115-pound title with a unanimous decision over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their April 7 rematch.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Chad Mendes: Hype surrounding Magomedsharipov continues to build. The former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder submitted Brandon Davis with a “banana split” kneebar in the second round of their featherweight feature. A short-notice replacement for the injured Yair Rodriguez, Davis conceded defeat 3:46 into Round 2. After a tepid first five minutes, Magomedsharipov hit his stride. He executed a beautiful trip takedown, advanced to the back and isolated Davis’ leg for the finish. Mendes, a two-time title challenger at 145 pounds, returned from a two-plus-year layoff on July 14, when he put away Myles Jury with first-round punches at UFC Fight Night 133.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Raphael Assuncao: On the heels of a 33-second knockout loss to Marlon Moraes, Rivera steadied himself with a unanimous decision over John Dodson in a three-round bantamweight showcase. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, all for the former Ring of Combat, King of the Cage and Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder. Rivera forced Dodson onto his back foot, attacked his legs with kicks and pieced together clean two- and three-punch combinations in improving to 21-2. Perhaps the most underappreciated competitor in mixed martial arts, Assuncao finds himself on a four-fight winning streak after earning a unanimous verdict against Rob Font at UFC 226 on July 7.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Dominick Cruz: Sterling further distanced himself from a devastating defeat to Marlon Moraes some nine months ago, as he submitted Cody Stamann with a kneebar in the second round of their preliminary bantamweight clash. The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative climbed to full mount in the middle stanza, advanced to the back and drove Stamann’s face into the mat with a full nelson. The Michigan Top Team export tried to stand with Sterling still attached to him, only to have the “Funk Master” bite down on his leg and wrench it sideways. The “stump puller” kneebar variation forced Stamann to tap almost instantly, the joint having been bent beyond its bounds. Reportedly nearing a return to the cage, Cruz has not fought since he surrendered the undisputed bantamweight championship to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in December 2016.