Tyron Woodley at the post-fight press conference
Tyron Woodley, a two-time NCAA All-American for University of Missouri, successfully held onto his UFC welterweight (170-pound) title, while two-time world bronze medalist Tatiana Suarez Padilla got a TKO towards the end of Round 3 at UFC 228 at American Airlines Arena in Dallas on Saturday night.
The former Tiger brings down the Gorilla
Despite giving up three inches in height -- and being a decade older than his opponent -- Tyron Woodley retains the UFC welterweight belt by submitting challenger Darren Till in the second round of their scheduled five-round title bout.
"Tyron Woodley has been vocal about the lack of respect he's been given over the years, even after he became the Ultimate Fighting Championship's welterweight champion," is how Sherdog.com opened its reporting of the UFC 228 top-of-the-card event. "After Saturday night, 'The Chosen One' might have finally silenced his critics."
"The champ dropped the Englishman with a short right hand to the jaw early on in the second and from there, he utilized a punishing ground-and-pound assault until he finished him," Sherdog.com continued. "Woodley slammed down dozens of elbows and punches onto Till's head, opening up multiple cuts along the way."
The 6-foot tall, 25-year-old Liverpool fighter nicknamed "The Gorilla" suffered his first loss when "Woodley locked on a textbook brabo choke" (according to Sherdog) or "a d'arce choke" (to quote CBS) and eventually forced the tap at 4:19 of the third round.
It was Woodley's fourth successful title defense since winning the championship from Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 in July 2016 ... and the former Mizzou Tiger's first fight in more than a year because of injuries.
Woodley said of Till, "He's a tough kid. He's a long, rangy opponent. Me trying to punch with him was extremely difficult. I had to let him come in. I saw he wasn't going anywhere, I had to take my time.
"He didn't recognize (the choke). At that point I knew I was going to get him."
Till responded, "I knew he was powerful. I knew he had power punches. My strategy was to feel him out in the first and to come forward. I left my hands down and the shot he clipped me with it was a great shot."
Woodley -- who was also a 2003 Big Ten champ for Missouri -- is now 19-3-1 in his pro career stretching back nearly a decade ... while Till -- who has been fighting as a professional since Feb. 2013 -- is now 17-1-1.
Past world medalist Suarez defeats Esparza
In a preliminary bout featuring two women with amateur wrestling credentials, Tatiana Suarez Padilla, a two-time world bronze medalist, earned a TKO towards the end of the third round versus Carla Esparza, a two-time women's All-American wrestler at California's Menlo College.
"Tatiana Suarez looked like a future star as she pounded Carla Esparza into smithereens for nearly three rounds in the UFC 228 featured preliminary bout," wrote Mike Sloan of Sherdog.com.
"Suarez took 'Cookie Monster' down virtually whenever she wanted and dished out a frightening beating with elbows, punches and hammerfists," Sherdog's Sloan continued. "Esparza never quit, but when Suarez moved to full mount late in the third, referee Kerry Hatley had no choice but to pull Suarez off when she rained down a storm of punishment via punches and elbows."
The end came at 4:33 of the third round.
Suarez, who has been fighting as a professional for just over four years, remains perfect, with a 7-0 record ... while Esparza, who launched her pro career 8.5 years ago, is now 14-6.