Covington said he was escorted by security from the arena after his unanimous decision win over Demian Maia in the co-main event of UFC Sao Paulo early Sunday morning. Then he was locked down in his hotel room until it came time for him to fly home late that night.
The extra precautions were because of Covington’s controversial comments about the home crowd after his victory over Maia. Covington said Brazil was a “dump” and called the fans in attendance “filthy animals.” On his way from the Octagon to backstage, Covington had 10 security guards covering him up as the irate crowd threw things at him.
“It was crazy, man,” Covington said. “The experience, it was awesome. You know, I love that. I knew I was going into hostile territory. I knew they were gonna be real sad, there was gonna be a lot of people pissed after I beat Demian. I expected that. It was awesome, man. It was a fun time.”
Covington, 29, did not come to the post-fight press conference. UFC executive David Shaw said that the promotion was not happy with his remarks and that they would be reviewed by brass. Covington said he doesn’t know why the UFC didn’t let him go to the presser, but he was told it was due to security reasons.
“I had my suit ready,” Covington said. “I was all dressed up, ready to go. But then [UFC official] Reed [Harris] put me in the van. He was like, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta get you out of here. We don’t know if it’s safe for you to be here.’ They either pulled me for two reasons. They either pulled me because they thought it was dangerous and they didn’t know if it would be good. Or they pulled me because they thought I was gonna say more controversial comments about Brazil.”
Covington (13-1) said he was escorted by armed guards into the fighter hotel and security guarded the door and the floor until it was time for him to leave to go to the airport. Covington said he didn’t leave the room once; his father went out to get him food.
“We went in through the negative levels,” Covington said. “They guarded me up the elevator. They wouldn’t let anybody else on the elevator. We ducked so no one sees us over the balcony. We walked back to our room. I’m in my room on lockdown.”
Once at the airport, he said no one recognized him. Covington said he was wearing sunglasses, a hoodie and a hat on. While he enjoyed the experience, the former Oregon State wrestling star admitted he did have some adulation regarding his safety after the fight. At one point, someone came to his hotel room door saying he was a journalist and they did not let him in.
“Yeah, for sure,” Covington said. “I was a little nervous. I can’t lie. I’m not gonna come lie to you today. I’m not a liar, I’m a truth teller.”
Covington insulted Maia, Brazilians and the city of Sao Paulo leading into the fight last week. He heard it from the fans at workouts and weigh-ins. On Saturday as he was about to walk to the cage, Covington said people began throwing things — even before the bout started.
“I just didn’t like how they treated me when I was in the tunnel before the walkout to the fight. I’m sitting in the tunnel and they’re yelling all these things. ‘Oh, I f*cked your mom,’ this and that. Stuff about me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna die.’ Throwing cups and stuff and hot dogs.”
That’s why Covington said he went off on the crowd.
“You need to respect me,” he said. “I’m going into a fight, this is professionals. So, I just felt disrespected by them. I didn’t say anything that was too outlandish.”
On Sunday, Covington released a mocking “formal apology,” saying he was sorry to filthy animals for comparing them to his “hosts in Sao Paulo.” He said he does not believe he crossed the line with his words.
“No, not at all,” Covington said. “With the way they treat people over there, you can’t do that over in Canada, Ariel. You can’t do that in USA. You won’t hear whole crowds doing stuff like that and the things they do. So, I don’t think I crossed any line. America.”
Covington has won five straight and is targeting a title fight against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley next. He’s hoping to fight Woodley in Woodley’s hometown of St. Louis. It’s pretty certain that Covington won’t be venturing down to Brazil again any time soon.
“I’m a company man,” he said. “I’ll go wherever the UFC wants me to go. But I probably wont be making an appearance back in Brazil.”