At Saturday night’s UFC 209, Tyron Woodley narrowly defeated Stephen Thompson to retain the welterweight title, but his post-fight press conference saw him having to do some dodging, weaving and countering of a different sort.
What started as Woodley explaining the meaning behind his UFC 209 walkout song — “I Ain’t Turning Back” by Thi’sl — ended in him kind of, sort of downplaying the title that he had just retained.
“When I talk about carrying my shield and going into battle, and I think about all the distractions, all the ways out, all the people that want to see me lose, it’s a lot of pressure,” Woodley said.
“People don’t understand that – you think you got (the belt) and your life is changed. To be honest, my life was a little bit better before I had the belt.”
Needless to say, his answer required just a little bit of backpedaling and explanation.
“I just think that it’s a lot of pressure as a champion,” Woodley said. “You’ve got to separate yourself. You want to be the best in the world. You want to wear the gold. It comes with a lot. It comes with a lot on your platter. It comes with a lot of expectations, a lot of obligations. And I feel at a certain level you have a duty, and I feel like part of the time my duty is to, you know, be honest, and if I see something that’s incorrect, speak on it.
“If I see something that’s right, congratulate that as well. And in our society, everyone doesn’t like to hear the truth all the time. And when you speak the truth sometimes, people are either sensitive or insensitive and, as we all know, I see all you guys quiet, don’t want to ask me the wrong questions. Sometimes I get a little bit of a bad rep for just speaking up on things I think are true.”
Woodley has been known to speak up on things he thinks are true before. His comments back in January about racial prejudice in the UFC certainly come to mind.
“I think the fans are human, and they have their own mind,” Woodley said at the time. “If someone doesn’t like a person because of their skin color – it doesn’t matter if you fight or you deliver mail – they’re going to have that opinion. … I don’t say MMA fans are racist at all; what I said is that fans are opinionated, especially because we’re the only professional sport to give them that access. So these people already have these ideas in their mind.”
Dana White seemingly brushed the comments off by calling Woodley “a little bit of a drama queen.”
Well that “drama queen” — albeit not in the most exciting of fashions — just retained his title. Now hopefully he’ll just learn to embrace it.