Why Tyron Woodley’s UFC 201 championship was a bigger victory for Ferguson

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It only took a few minutes for Tyron Woodley to shock the world and make history. While facing off against the perennial welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler, Woodley dismantled his opponent with a crushing right hand at the 2:12 mark of the contest. Lawler never saw it coming and Woodley claimed the title belt with the fastest finish in UFC welterweight history.

It was a great event for UFC and will take Woodley’s career to a new level. But beyond the sport and the actual event, the victory had a deeper meaning.


Almost two years prior to the day of Woodley’s big night at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Woodley’s hometown of Ferguson, Missouri, would be changed forever. Teenager Mike Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson and the town erupted in protests and unrest. The issues of poverty, racial injustice and bad education in Ferguson soon became revealed to the nation.

But Woodley remained a powerful voice for Ferguson before, during and after the uprising. He voiced the frustrations of a community that often felt as if they were placed in a position without hope. Woodley witnessed how the issues affected friends and family and wanted to become a beacon of hope. He made it a point to visit schools and community centers to speak with the children and teens of Ferguson to give them words of encouragement. Woodley gave back to Ferguson when his community needed a successful figure to take charge.


“I’m OK with going out and giving back to my community and talking to our youth. It means the world to me because I’m the kid who grew up in Ferguson,” Woodley said following his UFC 201 victory. “A lot of people told me that I wouldn’t be anything, but I’ve always proved them wrong. A lot of people didn’t think I deserved this shot to fight for the welterweight title. But I’m sitting here in front of you as the welterweight champion of the world. Everyone around me has given me the tools to be successful and I think I can push that to some youth in Ferguson.”

Woodley’s victory at UFC 201 was a victory for a town that needed to see one of its heroes defy the odds and achieve success.

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