“He’s a smart guy, he’s a good-looking kid,” White said Friday on ESPN Radio’s Russell and Kanell. “He’s explosive. He’s got knockout power. But he’s a bit of a drama queen.”
Woodley, who is African American, has been vocal of late about what he perceives as racism in MMA. He said on ESPN recently that he felt like he was the “worst-treated champion” in UFC history.
White believes Woodley has gotten it wrong. He points to the UFC welterweight champion’s proclivity to be contrarian on social media as the reason why fans have not taken to him. White said when there’s an obvious contender for his title, Woodley will talk about fighting other athletes.
“That’s not what people want to hear,” White said. “People don’t want to hear that. And then what he does is he’ll start fighting and arguing with people on social media. Then he wonders why when we show up to a press conference, the whole crowd is booing him. They’re not booing him because he’s black. There’s tons of black guys fighting in the UFC, you know what I mean?”
White said if Woodley was more like Conor McGregor, who has the attitude where he’ll fight anybody, anywhere, his ability as a draw would rise exponentially.
“If Tyron Woodley had that attitude, Tyron Woodley would be a massive star,” White said. “Massive star.”
On a recent episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Woodley talked about feeling like he was treated differently by people due to racism. He didn’t give any particular examples, but said it’s hard for others to understand if they have not experienced it.
“This is a sensitive subject,” Woodley said. “A lot of people aren’t gonna like it. I can explain until I’m blue in the face, some people still would never agree with me. They would still think that I’m playing the victim.”
Woodley might have talked about facing stars like Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz since knocking out Robbie Lawler to win the title at UFC 201 last August. But ultimately, he did sign to face Stephen Thompson, the No. 1 contender, twice. Woodley and Thompson fought to a draw at UFC 205 in November and will meet against at UFC 209 on March 4 in Las Vegas.
Woodley also said on The MMA Hour that he doesn’t appreciate how some people talk about his “freakish” athleticism and build like he has accomplished everything on natural talent, rather than hard work.
“If you look at the history of our sport — and it’s not even just our sport — the history of the American culture, certain things are subliminally racist that people don’t understand are racist,” Woodley said.
White, though, believes Woodley would be a much more popular figure if he stopped talking about fights with the likes of GSP and Diaz and just say he’ll fight anybody at any time, like McGregor.
“It’s Tyron,” White said. “If you look at the guy, right, he’s the perfect specimen. He’s the perfect athlete that you can get behind and promote until he shoots himself in the foot and does that type of stuff.”