Thomas: Lack of Woodley popularity due in part to race

Friday, March 09, 2018

There is a divide on race in the USA that leaves sadly little common ground. There is a large group that feels race plays no role, that America is color blind. And there’s another group that knows that’s bonkers.

Tyron Woodley does not enjoy popularity with the fans commensurate with his accomplishments. The charge that his relatively low popularity is due to a fighting style that is not wholly directed towards finishes doesn’t explain why GSP is one of the most popular fighters in the sport’s history, with an identical approach.

Woodley’s coach, friend, and co-podcaster Din Thomas appeared recently on the UFC Unfiltered podcast and argued that race is a factor, not everything, but a factor. Thomas also speculated on why Jon Jones has maintained a big fan appeal despite a Sam’s Club full of f*** ups, while the family man, movie actor, insightfully commentating champion Woodley has not.

“[Woodley] is not all that relatable to people,” said Thomas, as transcribed byJed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “He’s a wealthy black man that speaks his mind, people don’t like that. People didn’t like Cam Newton when Cam Newton was loud and brash. People just don’t like wealthy, large black men to speak their minds.

“It’s not all racial but let’s keep it real, when there’s a debate or whatever, Presidents wear a certain color tie to appeal to a certain demographic. We can’t try to hide the fact that our skin color has something to do with how people treat you. We can’t hide that fact.”

“Jon Jones is a lot more relatable because Jon Jones doesn’t come off like he’s great. My sister-in-law once said to me, ‘Look at Tyron, he acts like he’s better than everybody,’ and she said that not knowing Tyron but just what he puts out there. But Jon Jones can’t because he’s a drug addict and steroids and he’s running pregnant ladies over, so he comes off as human. He has problems and people can relate to that.”

“There’s a lot of different reasons. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it comes off as if we’re saying all people don’t like him because he’s black, but I don’t believe that for a second. I just think that’s one of the elements that makes him less relatable.”