Tyron Woodley is not just fighting for himself, he’s fighting for culture tonight.
The former UFC Welterweight Champion takes on YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul in a Showtime boxing main event. The lead-up to the spectacle has been legendary so far. Paul and Woodley are at each other’s necks, trading barbs with each other every step of the way.
When the two step inside the ring, the time for talk will be over.
Hailing from the ‘murder capital’ of Ferguson, Missouri, Tyron Woodley has seen it all. The former UFC kingpin has experienced his fair share of murders, crimes and violent sights in his hometown. This wouldn’t stop the young Woodley from making it to the big show in MMA though. Nor would it stop him from capturing a world title and defending it multiple times.
The Ferguson-native didn’t just want to share his story as a fighter, but also as a rapper. T-Wood would record his own rap songs in studio, recording music about his hard-fought upbringing and lifestyle.
His next opponent, Jake Paul, is also a rapper on the side.
Paul is more notably known as a YouTuber, trying to take on the boxing mantle, but ‘The Problem Child’ has a few rap songs under his belt.
This wouldn’t exactly sit well with Woodley as he thought Paul was trying to represent something he wasn’t before the fight. Paul would attend their pre-fight press conference with no shirt on and decked out in chains, similar to what a rapper would wear. Woodley didn’t understand why Paul would wear that, considering he had a pretty easy childhood compared to him, with no adversity when it came to poverty, gangs, violence etc.
“Who in your neighborhood dress like that?” Woodley told Paul on Face 2 Face.
Woodley would compare Paul to another polarizing personality who supposedly can’t relate to having an upbringing on the streets.
“I would compare him more to Tekashi 6ix9ine.” Woodley said on Showtime Basketball. Somebody that didn’t grow with street code. [He] don’t know the values, don’t have nothing to lose.”
Paul might not have rainbow-colored hair, but he grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio before he was dubbed a star on Disney Channel. In 2016, he was still a Disney star while Woodley became a champion in the UFC. For his short journey to reach him a fight with an all-time great in MMA, is pretty impressive to say the least.
Paul likely has nothing to lose, considering the level of his opposition at this stage of his career.
People with nothing to lose are often regarded as dangerous, which Woodley is fully preparing for come fight night. He’s preparing for this fight like any other, but he knows he has to put on a show for the fans.
“He can do whatever he wants to and still come out to the arena.” Woodley said about Paul’s pre-fight antics. “I think it’s important for the sport. I think it’s important for the entertainment. And at the end of the day, you got to see it for what it is. This is entertainment. This is we’re entertainers.”
“This is not even really athletics anymore. Mixed martial arts. It’s not really athletics anymore. When you really think about it, like it don’t matter. Who’s the best. It don’t matter. Like, think about it, you know, like the sport and I’m not knocking the sport, that’s what made me great. That’s what made me the legend. That’s what made me in a position right now where I can even fight a fight like this.”