Back in January, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley went on the offensive about what he perceived as substandard treatment by the UFC despite his championship pedigree. He cited a few factors, but believed that race played a part in it as well. To prove his point, he referenced UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson as another guy who may fit into the category.
Whether Mighty Mouse wanted to be included in the conversation or not, he is now. So in an interview on The MMA Hour, he cleared the air about his own thoughts on things. Basically, he doesn’t feel that being black has had an effect on his drawing power, calling it a “crazy statement”, but he can understand why Woodley might feel that way (via MMA Fighting):
“I don’t want to say it’s an issue. Because obviously I’ve been promoted very well as the flyweight champion. But can I say that people might feel there is? Yeah, probably people feel it. But I don’t think Dana White has ever been like, ‘I’m not gonna look at that [expletive], he’s black. Get somebody else in front of me.’ I don’t think Dana White is doing that. But I’m saying if people feel that way, it’s possible that some people feel that way. That’s just how it is.”
He did add that it’s something he has considered before though:
“If I were to say that’s never came into my mind, I’d be lying to the world.”
He then went in another direction in terms of describing how people draw in the promotion, stating (in a jovial manner) that the viral sensation, 13-year-old ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl Danielle Bregoli, would be a money draw in the UFC:
“I guarantee you if you get her some gloves and put her in the Octagon, she would be the highest selling pay-per-view fighter in the world,” Johnson said. “She’d probably do way more numbers than Ronda. Just because she brings drama and negativity to wherever she goes.”
Going back to the point though, he offers some insight into what his friend Woodley was trying to say:
“As an athlete, you have to sit back and think like, ‘Why won’t they push my work? I’m an analyst, I’m a husband, I’m a father, I don’t do drugs. I never disrespected anybody on a big level. So why won’t they promote me, but they’ll promote this guy? … Do you think it’s because I’m black or is it because he’s white?’
“That’s where he’s coming from. I totally understand it, because as an athlete and as an African-American, you have to sit back and think about that.”
Johnson will look to defend his 125-pound title for the 10th time when he meets Wilson Reis in the UFC on Fox 24 headliner in Kansas City on April 15th.