MMA has always had a racial problem. The promoters have never understood how to market its athletes of color, and to make the sport appeal to a wider audience of color. Still, there has always been an unspoken ethos in MMA to stay away from the issue of race and act like everything in the martial arts world is positive.
However, when the fans constantly reject ownership of a major MMA promotion by persons of color and fighter’s like Colby Covington are bold enough to go to Brazil and verbally spit in the face of an entire country, then we have a major problem. .
Recently, UFC welterweight Mike Perry felt the need to let the world know he has the right and the privilege to refer to his friends using the colloquialism “nigga”. In fact, it was something that UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley felt the need to clarify for those confused and co-signed Perry’s word choice for those wondering.
Uploaded by Fancy Combat on 2018-05-24.
Over a joint Facetime phone call posted for the world to see, Woodley initiates the call once he sees that Perry is engaging with him on his live stream to the fans. Perry greets Woodley loud and clear with, “Whats up my nigga?”
Surprisingly, Woodley, MMA’s most “woke” champion, was all too pleased at the interaction.
The surprise isn’t necessarily at Woodley not being offended but that he allowed Perry to strip his ambassador power with one lethal cultural utterance. In a world where the lines have never been more clearly drawn in the sand regarding issues affecting persons of color globally, and professional athletes using their platform to highlight them, Woodley makes a grave mistake.
Perry, who is from the poverty-stricken Flint, Michigan, grew up in communities of color and more than likely was accepted by these communities and given a degree of leeway when it came to racial terms of endearment. There is always a Caucasian and/or Latino person who grew up in and around impoverished communities of color that is just as accepted as everyone else. Still, these are private personal relationships that might never see the light of day or have the platform that both Perry and Woodley have.
Perry loves the danger involved in “acting black” but what he’s really doing is imitating those he grew up with and using it to brand himself toxically because it is fast and easy to say one word that will cause a racial maelstrom. The fact that Woodley poured more gasoline on the indignant emotional blaze of an average fighter, currently on a two-fight losing streak, is most perplexing.
Perry has had a few instances of questionable racial commentary on social media, and even went so far as to defend his friend and cornerman Alex Nicholson due to actions that took place during his fight against Hyun Gyu Lim in 2016.
Coming off a big first round TKO of the South Korean at UFC 202, Perry was asked about the controversy that arose when it was revealed that Nicholson used a racist taunt during the pre-fight introductions.
“He can’t even open his motherf**king eyes,” Nicholson said, making a reference to Lim.
Nicholson later wrote on Twitter that it was just “hype for his brother” and admitted his comments towards Lim were “insensitive”.
Perry went further, taking to social media to claim that since a home DNA kit revealed him to be 2% of African descent, he has a true pass because after all, he is 2% black. The fact that Perry feels the need to prove he has any African blood at all so that he can be unintentionally divisive is interesting since the proving of any African lineage in relation to calling or being called a “nigga” is divisive itself.
The term was created to divide and conquer under the pretense that being African or of color denotes inferiority, aka being a “nigger”. Perry using the fact that we all have African in our DNA is not only irrelevant but opens a window into how and apparently how Tyron Woodley thinks.
Its worth noting that the UFC has not taken any disciplinary action against Perry and has made no mention of an investigation being implemented against Perry or Woodley. It is unclear whether or not they will do so in this case although they have been rather strict in the past with other fighters and their online activities. It is indicative of a larger problem within the mixed martial arts business.
UFC light heavyweight Daniel Cormier parodys Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ for the 7th annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards. (written by Adam Hunter, performed by Jered Jones of Offset Season) Watch the event on Wednesday February 4th, 9pm ET on FOX Sports 2.
The biggest elephant in the collective MMA room is that its standout champions of color like Woodley and Daniel Cormier are happy that the money and exposure are there, but lament the responsibility that it takes to be a true champion.
I’m sure Woodley, who was instrumental in the aftermath of Mike Brown and the Ferguson, Missouri uprising, is a big fan of Muhammad Ali and might even cite Colin Kaepernick as a leader. However, what both Woodley and Perry have done is just as polarizing as Kanye West and Donald Trump, especially from Woodley who is vilified for his outspokenness on MMA’s racial issues.
By co-signing Perry, Woodley has ethered himself, diluted his stance, and erased all his position as MMA’s “woke” champion. Say it ain’t so ‘T-Wood’?