Tyron Woodley has been making a lot of noise since becoming the UFC welterweight champion over the summer, but not in the ways you might expect.
Set to face Stephen Thompson at UFC 209 in a rematch of their majority draw at UFC 205, "The Chosen One" has been taking up arms against everything from his opponent's "entitled" attitude to the racial prejudices of MMA fans as a whole, even claiming to be "the worst treated champion in UFC History" on account of his race in recent interviews.
It's an angle that has admittedly caught "Wonderboy" a bit out of left field, prodding the normally composed kickboxer to engage with Woodley in some heated arguments thus far on the pair's media tour.
Speaking with MMAWeekly, however, Thompson was quick to admit that he hasn't the slightest idea where Woodley's newfound gripe with the way he's being promoted has come from.
"I don't get it," said Thompson.
I'm not seeing any issues. I'm not in his camp, but everyone knows who Tyron is. I know that there are some things that he's turned down that the UFC has tried to get him to do.
I know he brought up Demetrious Johnson, and I just don't think Demetrious has a draw [like] some of these other fighters do. Jon Jones is one of the all time greatest. Anderson Silva! So I don't get what he was talking about when it came to him being treated differently.
Without getting into the whole race politics of MMA, it's worth mentioning that Thompson's point about Demetrious Johnson is an objective fact. Historically speaking, the lower weight classes (flyweight to lightweight) have never been much of a draw for the UFC before the era of Conor McGregor. Jose Aldo only cracked the 300k buy mark once during his initial run as featherweight champion. Frankie Edgar regularly failed to crack even 200k as lightweight champion, and the same goes for Renan Barao, Dominick Cruz, and basically any light/feather/bantamweight not named BJ Penn. Basically, there's a reason that MMA writers like myself need to beg you to tune into flyweight fights, and it has nothing to with race.
Woodley's claims seem presumptuous at best, even if they are based in some very real concerns about the way in which certain subsections of MMA fans treat African American fighters. One needs only look at the replies to the average Twitter post by Woodley (or even about him) to see that his accusations are not entirely baseless.
Regardless, the crux of Woodley's claims of mistreatment seem to lose some steam due to the fact that he has only held the welterweight title for a number of months, in which he has defended his it once, against Thompson, which ended in a draw. To define being pushed into a rematch with "Wonderboy" as "mistreatment" seems audacious by any stretch of the imagination, does it not?