Woodley willing to face Maia for title, but still prefers St-Pierre, Diaz

Tyron Woodley is likely to next face Demian Maia, who defeated Jorge Masvidal by split decision at UFC 211. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

Several weeks ago, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley proudly announced he'd commenced "Champ Camp" -- his preparations for a July title defense against a mystery opponent.

Details have been sparse since, although the opponent may have come into focus last weekend. Demian Maia (25-6) recorded his seventh win in a row, defeating Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 in Dallas.

UFC president Dana White has said Maia is next, and Woodley (17-3-1) is willing to fight him. He added, however, that Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz remain possible options for his next defense.

"I think those fights are way more real than you guys realize," Woodley told ESPN.com. "I was teasing everyone for several weeks, but that wasn't for giggles. Those are realistic options that could make Demian Maia take a backseat for a little bit."

St-Pierre (25-2) was expected to face Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship this year, but White recently said the promotion is moving away from the matchup because St-Pierre can't fight until November.

Diaz (26-9), meanwhile, hasn't fought since January 2015. According to Woodley, there have been signs of a Diaz return behind the scenes.

"The interest is there," said Woodley, on what he's heard from Diaz's associates. "I don't know if it was in the past. I don't think he had interest to fight anyone. We all know he's not scared, but he didn't think he was being compensated for what he thought he was worth.

"It's a different game now. People are making real money. I think if it's a good card that makes sense, that fight will happen."

Woodley said his priority has been and will always be St-Pierre, since the Canadian star is recognized as the best welterweight of all time. Woodley admitted he doesn't think St-Pierre wants to fight him, however, due to his punching power.

All that said, Woodley agrees Maia deserves a title shot and is willing to face him should the other two options not come together. He's not exactly excited about training for the matchup, though.

"He is one of the last specialists in the UFC," Woodley said. "He and Stephen [Wonderboy] Thompson are two of the last specialists in the sport and they just so happen to be in my weight class, right near the top. Training for Wonderboy's karate, two times in a row -- they were the most annoying camps of my life. He's so good at what he does.

"I was a little frustrated with people at the FOX studios this weekend. They were laughing and jumping on my back like Maia does in fights -- when I fight these specialists, I can't be free in camp. I can't be free in a fight. I can't fight the way I normally would against a traditional, freestyle fighter. Now, I might have to go back to a similar training camp."

He also said that while Maia is viewed as the No. 1 contender, he's probably the easiest matchup of those three potential options.

"Of those three guys, look at the X's and O's," Woodley said. "I match up really well with Maia. That's a more favorable fight than the other two. And you can include Masvidal in that, had he won. Maia is probably one of my most favorable matchups in the top of the division.

Woodley says he still wishes to fight sometime in July, either at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas or UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim. He said he has not spoken to White since the weekend, but expects to have a signed fight within the next two weeks.