Over the last few months, UFC welterweight titleholder Tyron Woodley has generated some controversy among fans by suggesting that he deals with racism, even as a UFC champion.
“If you look at the history of our sport – and it’s not even our sport, the history of the American culture – certain things are subliminally embraced that are racist,” Woodley said on a January episode of The MMA Hour. “When you say to me ‘Tyron, you are well spoken’, what does that mean? Does that mean I’m well spoken comparable to all the mixed martial artists, the 500 UFC fighters on the roster? Or does that mean as a black male in America?”
According to Woodley’s friend Demetrious Johnson, who holds the UFC flyweight title, any controversy generated by comments like the one above is unwarranted, as Woodley’s comments are simply being misinterpreted.
“Everybody just misunderstands Tyron when he talks about that,” Johnson explained on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour (h/t MMAFighting.com). “But I understand where he’s coming from.”
From there, Johnson explained that, while racism hasn’t been a tremendous problem over the course of his career, he has experienced it on some levels before.
“I don’t want to say it’s an issue,” The flyweight champ said of racism in MMA. “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 [UFC president] 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.”
“If I were to say that’s never came into my mind, I’d be lying to the world,” He added.
What do you think of Demetrious Johnson’s assessment of Woodley’s comments?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/14/2017.