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Morning Report: Din Thomas gives theory on why fans relate to Jon Jones better than Tyron Woodley

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Since Tyron Woodley won the UFC welterweight title at UFC 201 in 2016, the UFC has struggled with promoting a champion with the reputation for being widely disliked by fans. It doesn’t help matters that Woodley’s title defenses since becoming champion have been less than captivating or that UFC President Dana White has routinely feuded with his welterweight champion and thrown him under the proverbial bus on several occasions. But more so than either of those explanations, Woodley’s friend, coach, and podcast partner Din Thomas believes that race is one of the major reasons why Woodley has yet to gain traction with MMA fans.

“He’s not all that relatable to people,” Thomas told the UFC Unfiltered podcast yesterday. “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.”

Woodley himself hasn’t been shy about suggesting that his race plays a role in how he has been treated by the fans and by the UFC, and as the issues continue to arise with Dana White still publicly lambasting his champion, it’s hard not to find some merit in the claims. And as for the counterargument that former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is black and beloved by the fans and a star for the UFC, Thomas says that Jones is more relatable because of his numerous personal failings.

“Here’s the thing, Jon Jones is a lot more relatable because Jon Jones doesn’t come off like he’s great,” Thomas suggested. “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.”

Some people contend that Woodley’s failure to connect with fans has nothing to do with his race but stems from his attitude and suggest that Woodley is just “race-baiting.” Thomas concludes by arguing against that, admitting that Woodley’s inability to gain broader appeal with the MMA fan base at large is not solely a product of his race, but that race is definitely a key factor in the whole thing.

“There’s a lot of different reasons,” concluded Thomas. “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.”

Woodley is still recovering from shoulder surgery he had in December but is anticipating a summertime return to the cage, though no opponent is currently set.


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A weekend off! Feels like forever since there hasn’t been a UFC or Bellator event to keep us occupied on the weekend. I hope everyone makes the most of it. Enjoy the weekend and see y’all on Monday.

If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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