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T-Wood ready for Koscheck clash

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

It's a question that has been asked many times but bears repeating.

Which Tyron Woodley are we going to get? The Jay Hieron-Tyron Woodley or the Jake Shields-Tyron Woodley?

On Saturday at UFC 167, Woodley (11-2), a former Strikeforce title challenger, gets the biggest opportunity of his young career when he meets Josh Koscheck (17-7) on the pay-per-view main card. Saturday's card is arguably the biggest event of the year, commemorating the UFC's 20th anniversary, at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Coming off his Strikeforce welterweight title loss to Nate Marquardt, Woodley's stock went through the roof following his short-notice UFC debut when he smashed Hieron at UFC 156. In just 36 seconds, T-Wood showed the awesome explosiveness that he's teased his fans with for so long. Indeed, it looked like the real Woodley has arrived and at a perfect time, shedding the nonsense of the keyboard warriors out there who bemoaned him as nothing more than another wrestler who lays and prays.

In June, in his second outing in the UFC, Woodley met another former Strikeforece welterweight in Jake Shields.

In a fight that was far from a barnburner and added fuel to the fire of his detractors, Shields shutdown the Woodley momentum train. Over three rounds of work, Woodley landed just 60 strikes. He spent too much time along the cage and when the cards were read, Shields (29-6) one the split decision. The only saving grace that came from that fight was that Shields went on to defeat a game Demian Maia.

If you spend time with anyone who knows the game or knows Woodley, the synopsis is the same; the prowess and proficiency is there. The implementation is what's erratic.

Despite his lofty wrestling pedigree, a two-time All-American at the University of Missouri, Woodley has yet to score a takedown in the UFC. Come Saturday, this could become paramount.

Against Koscheck, Woodley faces a veteran with a chip on his shoulder. He has lost three out of his past five Octagon bouts and it could be do-or-die time for the 35-year-old, especially in the stacked and packed welterweight division.

"I see myself imposing my will on Tyron," Koscheck told Bleacher Report. "I have to be willing to stick to the gameplan and be willing to put him in positions where he doesn't like and put him in positions where he gets tired and that's my gameplan, to use the cardio. I have to win this fight. There's no question about it. The way the UFC policy is; you lose one, you lose two, you lose three, you may be out of a job. I'm going to fight my ass off, regardless. If this is my last fight or my 100th fight, I'm going to come and I'm going to fight. I always have and I always will and I'm going to come and bring this fight to Tyron."

This will be Kos's 23rd UFC appearance which will move him into a tie with Chuck Liddell for the fourth-most UFC appearances in history.

Woodley has access to the golden ticket. Come Saturday, we will see if he can punch it.

UFC 167 will air on pay-per-view beginning at 9 p.m. The prelims will be on Fox Sports 1. There are a number of viewing parties throughout the area. Also, you can watch the event at St. Louis Mills 18 movie theatre.

Check out two videos from the UFC's recent visit to St. Louis.

First, Woodley discusses the keys to victory against Koscheck.

And in this one, he makes a visit out to Rams' Park.