“I’m going out here and I’m trying to be a legend. I’m trying to be the best welterweight to ever grace the Octagon.”
That is Tyron Woodley‘s goal as UFC welterweight champion. Right now, however, he feels that he is far removed from the respect he should have as a UFC champion, let alone being considered the best ever.
In fact, in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, Woodley stated, “I’m by far the worst treated champion in history of the UFC, blatantly facts.”
Woodley meandered in and out of his reasoning for making such a statement, identifying the way the UFC promoted his first fight with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, but eventually settled in on race as his pivot point.
Woodley and Thompson fought to a draw at UFC 205, but will rematch at UFC 209 on March 4 in Las Vegas.
“Going into (the first) fight, I feel like Wonderboy was promoted as he was the champion. I’m the champion. I knocked out the baddest welterweight in the world (Robbie Lawler) in record breaking time. And I don’t get the respect that I deserve. So with that said, don’t have him walk out with American flag like I’m from a different country. Don’t have him paraded around. Don’t have everything revolved around him,” said Woodley.
To be fair, Thompson said that he walked out with the flag as a show of respect to wounded American military veterans, but that didn’t assuage Woodley.
“People don’t like to hear it, but it’s the culture of our sport. We’re dealing with a different set of rules. The UFC fans in general, we go through niches, we go through genres of people we like to fight. This is a genre where they want to see a clean-cut guy like (Thompson) doing a razzle-dazzle, super flashy fighting. Before then, it was guys that would fight to the death. Some people say that’s race in sport. The second I bring up race in sport, I’m immediately race baiting,” he commented.
“I can point out clear facts that no other champion has been treated like me. I’m not saying (the UFC) supports him more, but he sure as heck has some fans that cross the line quite a bit of the time, which is not him. I’m not saying that’s him. I do respect him.”
Although Woodley wasn’t laying all of his views on Thompson’s shoulders, he didn’t back off from pointing the finger at a racial bent.
“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,” said Woodley, before pointing to other examples of how he felt other African-American fighters were being slighted.
“Demetrious Johnson, African-American male, completely a Tasmanian devil. Why don’t he have the big endorsements? Why isn’t he making the most money?” Woodley posed after noting Johnson is widely regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
“The second Jon Jones slips on a banana peal and do something – now granted, he’s his own worst enemy – they can’t wait to throw him underneath the bus. Other people of a different race are given so many second chances.”
So what is Woodley to do? He plans to forge ahead and knock off Thompson and anyone else they put in front of him until it is undeniable that he is the greatest welterweight to ever grace the planet.