ST. LOUIS – Fast-rising St. Louis fighter Tryon Woodley joins eight other popular local fighters including Jesse Finney on Saturday night's six-bout undercard that will precede an incredible five-fight "Lawler vs. Shields" Strikeforce show to be televised on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
World-ranked fighters Ruthless" Robbie Lawler (middleweight) and Jake Shields (welterweight) will square off at a catch weight of 182 pounds in the main event and Andrei "Pitbull" Arlovski, Brett "The Grim" Rogers and Scott "Hands Of Steel" Smith will do battle
In other fights on Showtime's five-fight telecast, Arlovski, a former UFC champion, will take on the undefeated, hard-hitting Rogers in an Affliction sponsored heavyweight bout, the exciting, power-punching Smith will take on talented, Cesar Gracie black belt Nick Diaz, knockout artist Phil Baroni will meet Joe Riggs in a welterweight scrap and ex-UFC belt-holder and two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion Kevin Randleman will face Mike Whitehead in a light heavyweight matchup.
Woodley is 2-0 in his young career and takes on Salvoder Woods of Granite City, Ill. He is No. 11 of 13 children and was a two-time All-American at Missouri and the school's first Big 12 champion.
He answered six quick questions regarding Saturday night's fight.
QUESTION: What are you thoughts about Saturday and how you've prepared for this fight?
WOODLEY: "I'm super excited about Saturday night. I had the opportunity to train in San Jose, Calif., recently with "Crazy" Bob Cook and his great staff. Javier Mendez helped me fix a few things on my technique and I was able to work out with guys like Jon Fitch, Josh Koschek, Mike Swick and Justin Wilcox. Even Jake Sheilds came in one day and worked with me. It helped me quite a bit."
QUESTION: How important is it for you to put on a good show in front of the hometown fans?
WOODLEY: "My family has always supported me. To be able to come home and fight for such a great organization as Strikeforce is really incredible. I'm usually pretty mellow before my fights but it's going to be great to be able to go out afterward and celebrate with all my family and friends."
QUESTION: You were a college teammate of Mike Whitehead's at Missouri. What is the biggest thing you learned from wrestling in college that helped you with your current fight game?
WOODLEY: "I know my wrestling style translates greatly into MMA. I learned to be patient and to size up my opponent. But the biggest thing I learned is I have to concentrate and worry about myself. I can't look at the opposition and say, ‘I used to beat this guy in high school or college.' I have to take care of business for me and not worry about anything else."
QUESTION: Your website www.tyronwoodley.com is pretty cool. Do you enjoy blogging and marketing yourself?
WOODLEY: "I want to build value in me. Essentially this is a business. When I go out there to fight I have to be thinking in those terms. Who better to know about myself than me? I really don't want to take on all these tasks, but I want to know what's going on all the time. My family gets on me sometime and says you have to just concentrate on fighting. I have to have a general knowledge of what's going on so there are no curveballs thrown my way."
QUESTION: You even have an active fan club. What's the strangest thing that has happened with one of your fans?
WOODLEY: "I actually got a call yesterday from a guy in North Carolina who I didn't know from anyone who got my number and said he was a big fan of mine. He said he thought I had a great future and I sat there and talked to him for like 15 minutes. Most of the big names I remember growing up were really receptive to me when I had questions but some weren't. They were very standoff-ish and unapproachable and giving quick answers and always in a rush. So I try not to be like that."
QUESTION: You hail from a pretty tough St. Louis neighborhood. How did coming from such a rough area shape you as a fighter?
WOODLEY: "The cool thing about my neighborhood was there was definitely a lot of help going on. I don't think my story is any different than anybody else but I really think I had opportunities that others didn't. I have so many friends that got involved with drugs and some friends that have been killed. When I was considering what they call the ‘Dope Game' to sell drugs people were like, ‘No, you're going to college and you're going to wrestle.' I can still go back to the ‘hood for my stripes or for ‘ghetto cred' or whatever you want to call it but I go back for a different reason. Guys I run into say, ‘Hey, when's your next fight' or ‘How's the wrestling going.' Everyone knows me as the guy who made it, who went to college and got his degree and is now a professional fighter."