I put myself in a position where I made wrestling an option for me. I don't have to wrestle. I don't have to take another shot for the rest of my life if I don't want to. I have good enough hands, good enough boxing, good enough timing to strike with anybody in our division.
Growing up as a kid, in elementary and middle school, I was always getting in trouble. Always getting suspended. I got suspended for 90 days for fighting beginning my freshman year, so I missed Homecoming, and that's when I turned the page. I went on honor roll and had good grades after that. It was the changing point.
I don't think I'll get the credit I deserve, but I didn't get into this game for credit. I got into this game to be the greatest welterweight ever. If I keep knocking them out one by one, I think that will happen.
I guess you could say I fell into it. The main goal was to be successful and to make my family proud. Back then, MMA was just getting started, and there didn't seem to be a ton of rules. It seemed pretty brutal, and I was still pretty focused on wrestling. But I decided to give it a shot.
I'm a person who believes that if a team that's producing a champion and producing contenders in that same division, then the coaches should be proud of that and pat themselves on the back because they're really creating a dynasty, so that's the way I take it.
There's something about somebody who does something special in the UFC that they're allotted certain freedoms and wiggle room around the rules. I'm just not in that category. So if I want to fight Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz or Nate Diaz, then it's all the hooplah and all the talk about it.
I used to be in a street fight at least twice a week, so locking me in a cage with somebody, with a set of rules and a referee to jump in if something get ugly, and a time limit, like, it don't scare me.
A lot of people don't understand my reasoning behind wanting to fight big fights and big names. Knocking off these big names in fights really solidifies me as the best welterweight that's ever done it.
I've beaten Jordan Mein. I've beaten Tarec Saffiedine. Some people might have said I beat Stephen Thompson. I beat Robbie Lawler. These are the greatest strikers in our sport, but I'm the only one out of all those guys that outstruck the best strikers, and I still don't get the credit for being the best striker in our division.
What got me into MMA first was that I was a wrestler, and I was a gangbanger getting into trouble a lot and getting into fights. I grew up in a family of 15 in a four-bedroom house. It was dysfunctional, so that alone made me want to be an MMA fighter. It's really the only sport where you gotta basically depend on yourself.
If I have a chance to make a larger amount of money in a legacy fight against the No. 1 welterweight in history, it makes sense for me to want that fight. You have a lot of pay-per-view money coming to this company. Why shouldn't the champion partake in a piece of that pie?
I think a kid from the inner city, if I had to recruit, is the ideal person for MMA. They'd be less likely to be affected by hard work. They'd be less likely to not appreciate something when someone is helping them out, because they probably don't have a ton of stuff.
Rampage Jackson came to the UFC with a brain. He came to the UFC with a huge following from being in Asia with Pride. He was a personality before he came to the UFC. You don't see them putting marketing money behind him to blow him up.
My strength is my unpredictablity. I can wrestle, I can strike, I can move fast, and I do a good job of covering up. And because of my experience, I'm able to put myself in good positions in the ring. The guys I fight, they have to be ready for anything.
In the past, I said I didn't want to speak on certain issues because the second I said one thing about race, then 'Tyron's playing the race card.' But if you really think about it, what is the race card? The race card is that the man held me down, I had unfair circumstances, and I wasn't able to be successful because I was held down.
I remember recording over my mom's cassettes and putting on 'Thuggish Ruggish Bone,' and my mom be like, 'What the hell?' Being that I was born in '82, I've been listening to all of the classics throughout my years.
I don't believe in ring rust. I used to believe in ring rust, but I talked to my buddy Dominic Cruz, who's a bantamweight, and he basically said it's a mindset. What you do in between in your time off determines how you're going to look when you come in there.
I think the fans are human, and they have their own mind. If someone doesn't like a person because of their skin color, it doesn't matter if you fight or you deliver mail; they're going to have that opinion.