MMA Ratings Podcast

January 11, 2019

UFC 235: Colby Covington Is Fighting A Battle Against Dana White and the UFC That Isn't Worth It

By Raphael Garcia

A mixed martial arts contest is a duel between two men or women, doing battle in what many consider the purest form of combat sport. Right now, the UFC welterweight title picture revolves around these two men: the American-born champion, Tyron Woodley, and the Nigerian-born challenger, Kamaru Usman. As Usman and Woodley volley words back and forth in the run-up to their showdown at UFC 235, there’s a third man left on the sidelines: Colby Covington. Even though he was the UFC’s interim welterweight champion and is the #1 contender in the organization's divisional rankings, he’s getting a taste of what it means to be the odd man out, and for many, this is a comical predicament for Covington to find himself in.

Covington, an extremely capable fighter who is currently riding a six-fight win streak, has demonstrated a flair for getting attention, by any means necessary. It's a gimmick that has made some laugh, some cringe, some shake their head, and others outright hate him. He spoiled "The Last Jedi" on social media when it was still in theaters, he posed for pictures with porn stars, he called other fighters out in disrespectful fashion, and he lauded Donald Trump while sporting a MAGA hat. Yet all that attention wasn’t enough for him to get into the UFC 235 main event on March 2nd. And after all Covington’s pro-America, anti-foreigner, MAGA-like rhetoric, there’s a bit of irony to him losing out on a title opportunity to an immigrant that moved to the United States with his family when he was eight years old.

But as Adam Martin of MMA Ratings pointed out earlier this week, Covington should have been the guy to get the fight. He’s been building up his character and antagonizing Woodley for years. This would have been the exact type of fight that elevates the winner in the eyes of fans, putting whoever comes out on top in a position to garner a few hundred thousand extra PPV buys every time he fights. Right now, that's what the company desperately needs. And even though there’s still an opportunity to see this fight happen in the future, there are no guarantees. Usman is a tough opponent for anyone in the division, and with Ben Askren becoming UFC President Dana White's best friend, he may leapfrog Covington in the near future as well.

And yet, if you listen to Covington as he makes the media circuit, he’s taking every opportunity he can get to speak of the UFC President in a very disparaging fashion. Take his recent appearance on MMAJunkie Radio:

“I don’t really have a relationship with Dana White, and I don’t give a [expletive] about him. The reason the sport even is what it is, is because of Lorenzo. So, Dana hasn’t even done anything. He’s a piece of [expletive] person, and he has no morals or values.”

Those are some harsh words for the man with the power to dictate nearly everything that happens in the company that Covington fights for. But Covington didn’t stop there. He demanded that the UFC release him if the promotion doesn't give him the title shot he feels he earned.

Unfortunately for Covington, it’s highly unlikely that the UFC will release him, as organizations like Bellator MMA and ONE Championship would be ready to pick him up, and with the way the UFC's contracts are structured, as long as the promotion UFC offers Covington a fight on a periodic basis, the contract rolls over until he fulfills his obligated number of fights. The promotion could put Covington in a holding pattern, and he doesn't have the leverage it would take to get out of it.

Now it's possible that this development will turn Covington into a “cult hero” of sorts. White is far from a sympathetic personality within the MMA fanbase, so Covington going after him in such a fashion will earn him some support. Although his shtick has turned fans off over the years, directing his trolling and vitriol at someone more powerful instead of his usual targets is sure to bring praise his way; now he gets to be the underdog in the eyes of many fans.

But has Colby Covington truly been wronged by the UFC? In all actuality, the answer is “No.” Many UFC fighters have been overlooked for title opportunities they rightfully earned; these were men and women in far worse predicaments than Covington. And even with his talk, he's still under contract with the UFC, and his next Octagon fight could still be for the title. He's been passed over, but Covington may find himself with even more of a fan following before it's all said and done. And isn't that funny?

UFC 235
Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman (UFC Welterweight Championship)

UFC 235: Jones vs. Smith takes place March 2, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 235 Pre-Fight Analysis

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