Tyron Woodley Claims He’s the ‘Worst Treated UFC Champion’ Because of Race

AP Photo
The Associated Press

UFC Welterweight Tyron Woodley does not feel as if the UFC promotes him in the same way they promote other champions. Woodley, who is black, specifically feels like he and other black champions don’t get as aggressively promoted due to their race.

During a Wednesday appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Woodley said, “Let’s put the cards on the table. Real is real. If I was a different complexion, I think people and fans would treat me a different way.”

A lot of Woodley’s anger stems from the UFC’s promotion of his fight at UFC 205 with Hunter Thompson. Woodley claims that watching the promotion of the fight, he felt like the challenger instead of the champion. Woodley said, “Going into [the last] fight, I feel like Wonderboy was promoted as the champion. I’m the champion. I knocked out the baddest welterweight in the world [Robbie Lawler] in record-breaking time. I don’t get the respect I deserve.

“Don’t have him walk out with the American flag, like I’m from a different country. Don’t have him paraded around. Don’t have everything revolve around him.”

Thompson and Woodley fought to a majority draw, which led to a March 4 rematch for the two to settle matters once and for all.

Woodley continued, “People don’t like to hear it, but it’s the culture of our sport. We’re dealing with a different set of rules. UFC fans in general go through niches, genres of people. This is the genre where they want to see a clean-cut guy like [Thompson], doing razzle-dazzle, super flashy.

“Some people would say that’s race in the sport. The second I bring up race in the sport, I’m immediately race-baiting. But I can point out clear facts, where no other champion has been treated like me.”

Though, Woodley did end up pointing out an example of another black champion whom he believes has had bad promotional treatment from the UFC as well. Woodley asked, “Who’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now? [Flyweight] Demetrious Johnson. Why doesn’t he have the best endorsements? Why is he not making the most money?”

There’s an answer to this question, and it’s that flyweights never get endorsements or make big money no matter their greatness, because fight fans pay to see knockouts, preferably knockouts delivered by extremely large human beings.

Boxing proves this point well. Super Bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux can legitimately claim that he’s the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Some would disagree, but he’s in that discussion. So why doesn’t he make more money than Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Because he’s small, boring to watch, and has very little power.

UFC fans have certainly heard plenty about Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva. Jon Jones still got promoted by the UFC even after he forced them to cancel an event by refusing to fight a different fighter on short notice.

What did all those fighters have in common? In addition to the fact they’re minorities, they brought drama and championship pedigrees to the Octagon. Woodley can scrap, but he’s a poor showman and not all that entertaining of a fighter.

Not everyone can do what Conor McGregor does. When looking for reasons why he doesn’t get the promotional love he’s looking for, Woodley should probably start there and leave the race thing alone.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn