Adrian Woolley’s Unfulfilled Hunger
“Randy, don’ be scared homie!!!”
The strain of frustration hung so heavy Adrian Woolley did something he had never done before. He typed out the words, wrote in his name and hit “submit comment’, and the aftermath ignited into frenzy. Just as suddenly as it happened, the possibility of the fight became a selling attraction: “Who is the top Flyweight in Canada?”
Six hundred and eighty-six frustrating days marks Woolley’s last fight on August 13th 2011 to his return to the cage June 29th to meet Randy Turner. As Woolley will tell you, fights have been non-existent for him in the past two years. It’s not from a lack of effort. He’s not a dirty thug who’ll eye gauge in a clinch – he’s been praised for being a respectful gentleman in the MMA community. It’s not a risky record that plagues him when petitioning, he’s a stand out at 7-3, but a combination of his record, rather, his most recent fights — back-to-back losses — and what Woolley says is being “bad match up for a lot of guys” which casts a long shadow over his progress as a professional fighter.
“Why should they get their fighter a tough fight [with me] when they can find someone easier and coming off a couple of wins as opposed to coming off a couple of losses?”
With the recent success of teammates like Sean Pierson and Antonio Carvalho(1) making the UFC roster, and Josh Hill knocking on the door, Woolley became a healthy scratch wondering what it would take for his turn to finally come. At 38-years-old, on a two-fight skid, and no one stepping up, trying to find fights became a two-year nightmare.
He readjusted from being an active fighter and took on more of a leadership position for teammates like becoming a weight-cutting coach, training partner and a throwing dummy, and his new role just made him more frustrated. He wanted a fight. Helping teammates prepare just made him crave it that much more.
Openings to fight locally shrunk by the day in 2013, The Score Fighting Series ceased operations and ‘One-And-Done’ promotions fear to have events in the not very profitable market of non-UFC MMA in Ontario(2). It was beginning to look bleak for Ontario fighters and venturing out of province to land fights has become the reality, once again.
Fortunately an opportunity emerged to fight in Toronto with Substance Cage Combat (SCC), an upstart promotion focused on getting Ontario guys like Woolley back into the cage.
The main event went from Internet debate into existence within a few months. Matching up against Turner was a fight Woolley pushed for in the past, since they were both 35’ers, but he was always told, “they aren’t interested” in the potential fight — at the time Turner was on a win streak, which recently ended at five. Woolley was criticized by some asking whether he would want the fight if Turner were coming off a loss. His response has been consistent:
“Yes. I still think he’s one of the top 25’ers in Canada. I think he’s a dangerous guy, why wouldn’t I want to fight one of the top guys in Canada? I want to fight the best and I still consider Randy to be one of the best.”
Woolley finally has his fight with the guy whom he believes is at the peak of Canadian competition. After a two year struggle with ‘will they fight, won’t the fight’ searching and letdowns. During the hiatus Internet chatters began to market the ‘Woolley legend’. The chatters lead Woolley to become the toughest guy no one wanted to fight, and the top 25’er in the country. The Woolley legend was like a feared hellhound, which read along tales like David vs. Goliath. Woolley had to laugh at the personality the Internet created for him.
“[It’s] certainly not me or anyone from my camp saying I’m the toughest guy out there,” Woolley said. “There are guys out there that avoid me but it’s the same reason people avoid Sean Quinn. His record is 7-6 but why the fuck would they want to fight Sean Quinn because his record is not the best but it’s going to be one hell of a tough fight?”
Woolley says he doesn’t want to throw his name into the crop of top Canadian Flyweights just yet, either. In his heart he thinks he’s one of the best but he doesn’t think it’s fair to the guys who have made weight and fought already.
“When I make 25 and put my stamp on that, then yeah I can say, ‘I think I’m one of the top 25’ers,’” Woolley said. “Until then I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”
A Drop To 25
It was a running joke between Woolley and Sean Pierson. Pierson teased if the UFC started a 125-pound division Woolley would drop a weight class. Woolley thought the idea was absurd and figured they would never begin a Flyweight category.
His snap back quip would be, ‘I’ll go to 25 when you go to 55,’ which Woolley joked at Pierson’s weight cutting troubles in university wrestling. In December 2011, the UFC announced Flyweights would debut on March 3rd, 2012.
“Sean kind of looks at me and I was like, ‘Alright, fucker, I guess I’m going to 25,’ so I look back at him and say, ‘I guess you’re going to 55.’”
Now he’s about to debut at Flyweight, with two-years of ring rust, and says he absolutely has to come out and make a statement on June 29th but he knows Turner is thinking the exact same thing(3).
“I just don’t think Turner’s last fight showcased everything that he brings to the table and he certainly didn’t showcase his true abilities,” Woolley said. “He got caught. He got caught in a guillotine. [I’m] not taking anything away from Banin because the kid’s a stud and he’s ended all his fights in the first round.”
As the Internet’s top Canadian Flyweight, making it to the UFC after a victory in this fight, Woolley’s “No way” answer was blatant. He doesn’t think beating Turner or vice versa makes either UFC bound – but it definitely gets him one step closer.
“I know I’m going to have to put on one hell of a display, make weight and get the win and I think I’d need two, three wins in dominating fashion before I start turning heads,” Woolley said. “Does the UFC know who I am? Sure they do, but I think they want to see what they’re getting…I think they want to see if they’re getting their money’s worth and see me prove I can fight at 25 a couple of times and win.”
The Wreck 2.0 Call Out
With built up aggravation and frustrations at breaking point, Woolley went on the forums and typed out the words, wrote in his name and hit ‘submit comment’. The “Call Out” was meant in a playful, humourous manner(4) but his intentions were there. The Bully was looking for a fight. And an Internet forum was his last resort.
Woolley confesses why it’s been so difficult for guys like him to find fights. The two-fight skid didn’t help his cause. He says people are trying to get their fighters to the ‘next level’.
“I was like, ‘What does it take, what do I have to do to finally get a fight?’ so that’s why I came out with that I called him out.”
Woolley has gone on record saying he meant no disrespect by it. As he put it: “I’m simply requesting a fight, as fighters do. To fight the best, and challenge one’s self. I believe Randy IS that challenge.”
Filling A Void
Substance Cage Combat, Woolley says, is a “grass-roots level” show that wants to stay consistent with their motivation: branding up-and-coming Ontario fighters. “There’s been these shows all over Canada and we haven’t had that luxury in Ontario yet we haven’t had a small show.”
SCC promoter, Neil Forester, said in an interview with The Fight Network that this card is not about making money but all-for getting Ontario guys a local avenue to showcase their stuff.
Notwithstanding Forester saying this first endeavor is not about the money, Woolley thinks SCC can survive in the tough Ontario market if they stick with their intentions as a feeder promotion designed to build and prepare fighters for bigger shows.
“If everyone keeps their egos in check, it’s about the fighters and it’s about getting fights,” Woolley said. “They [SCC] don’t want to see fighters like myself or younger fighters getting thrown to the wolves in other provinces.”
1. Antonio Carvalho was cut by the UFC on May 6th 2013 following a TKO loss to Darren Elkins at UFC 158.
2. Besides the UFC and Bellator, the only promotions consistently holding pro shows in Ontario –still operating—are Freedom Fight MMA & Avant-Guard Productions, with two each, roughly one per year.
3. Woolley offered to donate his entire fight purse to fight Turner at Wreck MMA 2.0 on March 28, 2013. Turner ended up facing Michael Banin on short notice and lost what was called an upset by first round guillotine.
4. The infamous, “Don’t be scared, homie!” was said by Nick Diaz post-fight to winner KJ Noons in 2007, regarding a rematch after their fight ended prematurely via cut. The line became an instant classic in the online MMA community.