UFC Vegas 42’s Sean Woodson: The Ring Rust is Real

Sean Woodson and Youssef Zalal, UFC Vegas 28
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 05: (L-R) Sean Woodson punches Youssef Zalal of Morocco in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 05, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

After a spotless start to his professional career, Sean Woodson got caught with a submission at the hands of Julian Erosa. Although taking a loss for the first time in one’s career is never fun, what happened to Woodson next was arguably worse. Woodson, who always tried to stay as active as possible, went on the shelf. An injury pulled him from a bout and it took him a year to get back into the cage.

When Woodson finally did get back in there for a June fight with Youssef Zalal, something felt off. It wasn’t the huge relief that Woodson had envisioned it would be.

“I just didn’t feel like myself at all out there,” Woodson said. “I’m my own worst critic and I just know what I’m capable of and I didn’t know it in that fight.”

He knew the combinations that he wanted to throw, but couldn’t seem to find the right timing that he normally would. It was a feeling that Woodson had never felt before and he was sure he knew who the culprit was.

“I remember as soon as I got in there, I just felt that everything felt off and awkward,” he remembered. “I really got a strong feeling that it was because of the ring rust.”

Not only had Woodson not felt ring rust before, he was the type of person who didn’t even think it existed prior. Now it was wiping away everything he felt he did well.

“I was the guy who didn’t really believe in ring rust, but I definitely felt it in that fight,” he admitted. “Just the timing and the speed and my range – all three of those combined just made for a shitty fight in my opinion. And those are what I pride myself on.”

However, despite all of those issues, Woodson came out on top of a split decision. While the feeling was miserable when he was in the cage, he took a lot away from that experience.

“I took confidence in knowing that, even on off days, I can beat these guys. Even on off days, I can still hang with and be the best in the world,” he said. “And I’m confident that I won’t have that issue this fight because this fight is about five to six months removed from my last one… I feel like that will make a huge difference in this fight.”

You can see the less rusty version of Sean Woodson this weekend at UFC Vegas 42. He’ll fight Collin Anglin on the ESPN+ prelims.

You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 2:19.