When Tyron Woodley got the call that he was joining the cast for Cobra Kai season 5, it was a dream come true.
The former UFC Welterweight Champion, who was active in fighting and acting, had actually started to get involved in martial arts because of the inspiration that he saw The Karate Kid as a child. To end up landing a role in the hugely popular follow up TV series on Netflix felt like Woodley was coming full circle with his career.
“The Karate Kid was the reason why I started martial arts in general,” Woodley told The Fighter vs. The Writer. The Writer.
“Just being able to start martial arts based upon that film and then what I did in martial arts landing me a role in Cobra Kai, and then I get to work side-by-side with these people I looked up to for so long.”
In the show, Woodley plays Sensei Odell — a trainer that gets hired to work at the Cobra Kai dojos where he ends up engaging in several big action scenes throughout the season, including a pivotal moment in the finale episode.
Woodley loved the role so much that he got an Cobra Kai tattoo on his arm in celebration of the chance to act alongside childhood heroes Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and William Zabka who were the lead characters in Karate Kid .
“It is like being the No. 1 [show] on Netflix every time it comes out, so to be able to be on a franchise like that with a pretty strong role in the actual entire season, it was a pretty big deal for me,” Woodley said. “I’m going side-by-side with Johnny and Daniel, so it’s a real thing. My character has a strong presence.”
What Woodley didn’t expect to happen while he was filming the role of a lifetime was to receive a call about a fight he had been seeking in the months leading up to Cobra Kai starting production.
While his focus had shifted from fighting to acting, the now 40-year-old veteran was still staying in shape and working out on set when Jake Paul’s business partner reached out with an opportunity.
“I was on the set of Cobra Kai and I got a call from Nakisa [Bidarian], Jake Paul’s manager saying, ‘Hey, all these people are wondering if we paid you to throw the fight, I think you should come out and talk about it,'” Woodley revealed. “I was like s***, I’m not talking about anything because if they’re talking about me, they’re talking. I don’t have to confront [anybody]. People think that I am retired. Some think I threw a fight. Others think I was angry. As long as they are talking about you, it’s okay. When they stop talking about you and they stop thinking about you, that’s when you’ve got to go and do something that you think is going to draw attention, which, I don’t do things for clout.
“So he hit me about that and I said, ‘I’m going to be real with you, Nakisa, I’m probably not going to do it cause that’s not really what I’m on right now. It’s not my job to defend myself. It’s possible that you guys shouldn’t even attempt to defend yourselves. But, I told him, “Let’s sleep on this.” If I wake up and I’ve got a change of heart, I’ll let you know.’ Then he kind of threw in a little plug about, ‘Tommy Fury, they’re giving us heartaches about getting over here to the States.’ Well, you already know my number. So he shouldn’t fight Tommy. Let me now .”
Woodley had been chasing a rematch with Paul ever since their first fight ended in a split decision, but the YouTube celebrity turned boxer had shifted gears for a matchup against Tommy Fury instead.
When Fury was forced to withdraw from the bout, Woodley said that Paul’s team reached back to Fury with a request for a rematch. However, the fight would be held within two weeks.
” The next day [Nakisa] asked me, “So hypothetically what if?” I replied, “We’re in real life, momf *****..” Woodley replied, “You need me.” “‘You’re in Atlanta, I’m in Atlanta filming Cobra Kai. I’m off on this day, let’s grab some food.’
“We grab some food. I said yes immediately. I had two weeks to get ready and I was filming 14-hour days.”
According to Woodley, his shooting schedule for Cobra Kai was not only intense due to the physical nature of his role, but the days and nights spent filming were incredibly long.
“When I wrap up on set of Cobra Kai, I was training at 3:00 in the morning for the Jake Paul fight,” Woodley said. “Then get up, film all day again and then they let my coach come on set so we could train in between if I didn’t have a scene.
” Then, they changed the choreography. I was supposed to do a couple more stunts. They changed the choreography and had another person do a couple more beats so that I could leave on time and wrap to be done so I could actually go and train.”
As production continued, Woodley actually finished shooting one particularly grueling episode just hours before he was scheduled to fly out to Tampa to kick off fight week for his rematch with Paul.
” We didn’t wrap, and my part was very important to the episode,” Woodley stated. The whole episode reached its climax at that point, and it was a difficult decision to make. I committed to that so I can’t pull out. So on Thursday at 2 a.m. and they still haven’t filmed my part but I committed to the film. It’s up to me to keep filming. Friday was my scheduled trip to Tampa. My family flew me out to see me Friday. I was supposed to stay in Atlanta. My family is the most important thing to me. So I flew everybody to Atlanta, they got on the set of Cobra Kai, my oldest son has a part in there, then they came out there and my coaches stayed, my security stayed.
“I trained Saturday, Sunday. I completed what was required of me Monday and wrapped up. I hopped right on the plane and I went to Tampa right from there.”
It was an amazing turn of events for Woodley, as he went from performing choreographed fight scenes using professional actors and stuntmen to fighting Paul in real life just days later.
“I flew from the set of Cobra Kai directly to Tampa. I didn’t go home,” Woodley said. “I couldn’t go see my kids. I don’t care ***, I see my children before I fight. That’s who I’m fighting for. I need to see their little faces before I get on that plane so when it gets hard in there, I can f*** somebody up. I flew them all to Atlanta. After hanging out with them, I went to the set of Cobra Kai . I then flew directly from Tampa on Monday or Tuesday.
” I went from punching and kicking to blocking, and then kicked, punched, and chopped this guy’s face, all while talking s*** at the press conference. There was no time between .”
If any of this sounds like Woodley is making excuses for the result in the fight where he suffered a knockout loss to Paul, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Woodley believed that he could outwork Paul and punish him in the rematch. This is what happened until Woodley got caught by a vicious punch, ending his evening in round six.
In that regard, Woodley gives all the credit to Paul for catching him during a momentary lapse in judgment with his defensive stance.
“I told him that I would be better than him,” Woodley stated. “He will be the one that’s looking tired. Watch the fight again. I was winning the fight. I was bullying him. He was being walked down by me. He looked to be tired.
“He threw a punch at the same time I dropped my hands. I never, ever let myself make that mistake, I [just] left my hand down. That was .”