For the second time in as many years, Tyron Woodley has found himself as the point man for MMA media questions on racial topics in his home state of Missouri. Back in 2014, the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Woodley's home town of Ferguson, Missouri sparked massive protests and was the center of national headlines for months to come. Now news of protests over perceived systemic racism at the Woodley's alma mater, Mizzou, have the UFC welterweight top contender back front and center as the tie between the combat sports world and a moment of national interest.
Tyron Woodley, who attended Mizzou between 2000 and 2005, told MMAFighting in a recent interview that given the climate he saw while attending, he stands by the protesters who forced the change in university leadership:
"I think it was a well-organized and well-thought out strategy on how to get results and the solution that was non-violent," Woodley said. "If you really want something done, take a deep breath, don't act irrational, don't go and blow things up, loot, riot, steal and don't live up to the stereotypes that people are supposedly hitting you with. Come up with a strategy, come up with some valuable solutions, come up with a timeframe you want it done and come up with a way you want to get it done. That's what this group did."
Woodley talked about the scarcity of African American students, reportedly just 3.9% of the student body when he attended and the lack of presence that African American fraternities and sororities held on campus as some of the ways that Mizzou's problems may be systemic.
"I definitely think it's racism that was at the university," he said. "Some people were so surprised, like, 'I would have never thought there was racism there.' Not to take it so far back, from the scope of how long humans have been on Earth, slavery was like yesterday. It's not like it was that far away. It's not like it happened B.C."
Eventually it sounds like, at least to Woodley's way of thinking, the Mizzou protesters did a "perfect job" of achieving their results:
"I think people should consistently use better tactics and better ways to get results," he said. ... "I think these kids did a perfect job of showing, if we want this to happen, we feel like this will change the dynamic, we feel like these problems were not addressed and for that reason alone these are our demands."