How far is too far when it comes to promoting a fight?
If you’re Colby Covington, there is no limit.
Unbeaten in his last six fights, “Chaos” has lived up to his name by building up a controversial outside-of-the-Octagon persona even as he continues to rack up wins over welterweight contenders like Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia. Those two fighters are beloved in their native Brazil, home to a segment of fans that Covington memorably referred to as “filthy animals.”
The way Covington sees it, he’s establishing himself as a man that people want to see fight, whether it’s to witness him triumph or get his just desserts. On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Covington was asked if there’s a point where these tactics could possibly become bad for the sport and he scoffed, pointing to the recent Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor brawl at UFC 229 as an example of what he considers to be an incident that only generated more buzz.
“At no point can it get bad for MMA,” Covington said. “We were at our lowest point when that sheep-lover Khabib jumped out of the cage and put innocent people’s lives in danger. Everything sells these days.”
Currently, Covington is directing his vitriol at UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. The two were once teammates at American Top Team and Covington has said on multiple occasions that he would get the better of Woodley whenever they trained together. He also stated that it’s Woodley who is responsible for their fight having yet to become official.
In Covington’s eyes, it’s this antagonistic relationship that has made their prospective pairing one of the “top-five all-time” most anticipated fights in MMA history. Much like how the bitter rivalry between Nurmagomedov and McGregor fueled a massive pay-per-view turnout, he thinks that the war of words between himself and Woodley is exactly what the fans crave.
“I think that people live in safe spaces these days, they don’t want to deal with the controversy and the drama,” Covington said. “But at the end of the day, all this drama and controversy, this is what everybody wants, this is the drug that they’re needing. They’re addicted to this. I’m addicted to winning, they’re addicted to drugs and other things, but they’re also addicted to this fight and the controversy that sells this fight. So I don’t think you can go too far promoting these days.
“When I fight, people are going to watch me fight. They’re not gonna turn the channel to ‘Real Housewives of OC’ like they will other fighters. There’s not anything that doesn’t promote and you can’t go too far in this business.”
Covington also spoke about his relationship with the president of the United States, calling himself “Donald Trump’s favorite fighter.” Covington visited the White House earlier this year and posed for a picture with Trump, a move in line with his current brand of right wing histrionics.
He doesn’t expect the president to make it out to see him compete anytime soon, citing safety reasons.
“It’s too much of a risk to go to a fight,” Covington said. “If people knew he was coming to a fight, the place would 100 percent get bombed by all these Hollywood liberals, so it wouldn’t be a good place for him.
“But Donald Trump Jr., I’m sure his son would come. We’ve reached out and he wants to come to my next fight, so the Trump family is completely behind me and they’re excited to see America’s champ and just keep making the division great again and ‘Trump 2020,’ baby, we’re just getting started. The best is yet to come.”
That’s all gravy for Covington, who declared himself to be the biggest draw in the welterweight division. And he’s promising that the next time he has to sell a fight, he’s going to take things to another level.
“Everybody’s calling me out,” Covington said. “Why do you think everybody wants to fight me? I’m the money fight. I’m the biggest draw. I do the biggest numbers in this division and it’s not even close. There’s a reason all these guys want to fight me. They don’t want to fight Tyron Woodley. Because I’m the biggest fight and the biggest draw in the division.
“I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got so many tricks up my sleeve, you haven’t even seen my promotional tactics yet. Just wait ‘til what I have in store in the future.”