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Woodley: Race affects treatment of UFC champs like me and Demetrious Johnson

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Tyron Woodley says race affects how he and fellow champ Demetrious Johnson are being treated by both the UFC and the fans.

Tyron Woodley, photo by Anton Tabuena Anton Tabuena

Tyron Woodley went on a bit of a media tour promoting his UFC 209 title rematch against Stephen Thompson. During an appearance with ESPN, the welterweight champion said he doesn’t get the respect he deserves from both the UFC and the fans in general.

“Coming into this fight, I felt like Wonderboy was promoted as the champion,” he said. “I’m the champion! I knocked out the baddest welterweight in the world, in record breaking time, and I don’t get the respect I deserve.

“People don’t like to hear it, but it’s the culture of our sport. We’re dealing with a different set of rules,” Woodley said, explaining that even as champion, he doesn’t get the same respect or promotional push like Thompson and others.

“The UFC and fans and general, we go through niches, we go through genres of people we like to see. This is the genre, where they want to see a clean cut guy like this young man to my left, doing razzle-dazzle super flashy fighting. And that’s what they’re in. Before then, they’re in to guys who ‘fought to the death’.”

Woodley says this treatment is because of race.

“Some people say it’s a racist sport. They second I bring up race, I’m immediately ‘race baiting’, but I can point out clear facts that no other champion has been treated like me.

“I’m not saying they’re supporting him more (because he’s white), but he sure as heck has fans that cross the line quite a bit — which is not his fault, I’m not saying it’s his fault. Let’s get that clear — But let’s put the cards on the table, real is real. If I was a different complexion, people and fans would treat me a different way.”

Woodley furthered his case by bringing up the treatment of fellow top fighters.

“Who’s the pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now? Demetrious Johnson. African-American male, complete Tasmanian Devil. Why isn’t he getting the big endorsements? Why isn’t he making the most money? What’s the difference?

“Think about it. The second Jon Jones slipped on a banana peel — granted he’s his own worst enemy — but they can’t wait to throw him underneath the bus. People of different races are given several chances.”

For his part, Wonderboy says had a different point of view, particularly with how the UFC has handled both of their careers.

“(Jon Jones) threw himself under the bus, what are you talking about?” Thompson responded. “I don’t see that at all. I don’t see it. I think we were promoted the exact same way.”

Woodley, who has been champion for 6 months, disagrees completely.

“I’m by far the worst treated champion in history of the UFC. Blatantly facts,” Tyron said. “There’s no “think”, it’s complete fact.”