Tyron Woodley made a statement with his appearance at the UFC Vegas 11 press conference on Thursday.
The former welterweight champion, who on Saturday meets longtime rival Colby Covington, showed up wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt along with a hat emblazoned with the words “Make Racists Catch the Fade Again” in the same style as the “Make America Great” hat made famous by President Donald Trump.
Once reporters started asking questions, Woodley fashioned every answer highlighted by the same phrase — Black Lives Matter.
“I’m just really excited that Black Lives Matter,” he said.
“I just think that Black Lives Matter,” he said.
“I just hope they realize Black Lives Matter,” he said.
“I definitely realize Black Lives Matter,” he said.
“The fact that Black Lives Matter,” he said.
The Black Lives Matter movement was first started in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman after he shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin. The mission stated on the Black Lives Matter website is “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
In recent months, Black Lives Matter has taken center stage in numerous protests around the world after George Floyd was killed by police in Minnesota, as well as the recent shooting of Jacob Black, a Black man who was left paralyzed after being shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisc.
In an interview with ESPN earlier this week, Woodley gave his thoughts on the current climate in sports today where leagues such as the NBA have made strong statements in support of Black Lives Matter.
“I love what the NBA has done,” Woodley explained. “You see Black Lives Matter on jerseys. You see it on the floor. You see guys represent for the late and great Chadwick [Boseman]. You see people are speaking out, and that’s what it’s going to take. We can’t just sit back. When these greats die, don’t let their death go in vain. Carry the torch. Muhammad Ali stood for what he stood for. He lost millions of dollars in his prime because of what he stood for. I think LeBron James is the same way.
“Some people don’t like his abrasiveness, but he means what he’s saying. He’s done a lot for the culture. And when I say the culture, don’t get that confused with Black people. The culture is anything that, whether it’s fashion, whether it’s music, whether it’s art, whether it’s whatever, it’s a culture that’s revolved around these things.”
Woodley said in the same interview that he would wear Black Lives Matter on his shorts on for his main event showdown with Covington. He added that he wished the UFC would do more to show support in situations like these, especially after leagues like the NBA allowed players to wear certain messaging on their jerseys during the 2020 playoffs.
“I wish the UFC would do a little bit more; I’m really not happy with that,” Woodley said. “I had a long conversation with Dana White about it when the riots happened at Ferguson. I wanted them to utilize me to show a positive spin.
“Let’s go give back. Let’s go do seminars with these kids. Mixed martial arts is an affordable martial art that they can do. Start doing seminars, bring some of these guests in and have them talk to the kids about life and what martial arts and the discipline has given to them.”
Woodley certainly made it clear what he wanted in the spotlight with his appearance at the press conference on Thursday, and it’s likely he’ll continued to show that support through his fight this weekend.