For a long while, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley ignored the slights and threats and public callouts he received from his controversial ex-teammate Colby Covington.
Following Covington’s interim title win over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225, a title unification bout between Woodley and Covington appears to be the next step on the horizon. For Woodley, that means a chance to pay his one-time training partner back for every single word Covington said. And rest assured, Woodley plans to make good on that chance.
“Here’s the thing, he’s not on my level. He never will be on my level. But now he’s to the point where it’s almost like my duty as a martial artist to f*ck him up,” Woodley said Monday on The MMA Hour. “It’s almost my job as a martial artist, for whatever I stand for. I talked to (ATT owner) Dan Lambert today. I said after I whoop his ass, I want him off the team. He’s a disgrace to American Top Team, the tradition that it was rooted in. He’s a disgrace to the sport. He’s a mockery to the toughest and the best division in the UFC’s history, which is the welterweight division, and he’s a disgrace to it.
“It’s not like he’s just going out there and just saying something he believes. He’s staging and premeditating very controversial, very racial, very socially insensitive statements, and he can’t back it up. He’s talked himself into a fight with me. The problem is, when they lock this Octagon, I’m gonna unleash an ass-whooping on him that nobody has every experienced — and he can’t run. He can’t out-strike me. He can’t out-wrestle me. And anybody can get in shape, brother. You think cardio gonna beat me? Let me see you put your chin on the treadmill. Let me see the cardio of your chin, because he hasn’t been hit like I’m gonna hit him. RDA don’t possess that power.”
The relationship between Woodley and Covington dates back to before Covington was even a member of the UFC. Woodley said he tapped Covington to be a training partner at American Top Team ahead of his 2014 fight against Rory MacDonald, and Woodley said he was struck by having never met “a lazier piece of sh*t” or “a more horrible human being than Colby Covington.” Woodley added that the UFC should be “embarrassed” for getting behind Covington, a controversial fighter who has stoked public tensions with his attacks on female UFC fighters, crusade against the country of Brazil, and denouncement of NFL players’ protest against inequality and police brutality.
But most of all, Woodley takes issues with how Covington’s actions have reflected on the team that built him from anonymity into one of the best welterweights in the world.
“I [started at ATT as] a wrestling coach,” Woodley said. “I wasn’t even technically what you would call a fighter yet. And for me to come from a coach, to an amateur fighter, to a pro fighter, to a world champion, I take pride in what American Top Team stands for. He’s a disgrace. He’s the sh*t on the bottom of my foot when I walk through the park. That’s what he is.
“I’m not going to make it fast. It’s not going to be in the first round. I’m going to talk to him, I’m going to embarrass him, and I’m going to do it the entire fight. And if the referee gets close, I’m going to say, ‘Move back, brother. I’ll tell you when to step in and stop this fight. Don’t f*cking come in here to save his life. Let him take this fade. Let him take this ‘L.’ Let him take this ass-whooping.’ Because I don’t want him to ever fight again. Like, I wouldn’t care if he didn’t make out of the Octagon — and I’m dead-ass serious about that.”
Woodley added he vowed to stay out of Covington orbit of back-and-forth over the past year as the 30-year-old contender worked his way up the welterweight ladder. But now that Covington is officially the interim UFC champion, the gloves are off, and Woodley intends to prove a point against the man who has been publicly prodding him for months.
“I’ve been making more money not fighting than he’s made in his entire career,” Woodley said. “So why am I going to pay attention and give him the focus? Now he’s got my attention, and he got me into a position that I’m kinda actually scared of what I can actually do with this mental state. Like, if I knock people out and I’ve never punched anybody 100 percent in a fight — most of my knockouts come because I see it and I react and I get to the pace real fast, I get to the sh*t real quick; it’s not the fact that I’m just sitting there teeing off.
“But I’m gonna try to tee off on him so bad that he just wants to quit. And if the referee looks like he’s gonna come break it up, I’m gonna pause and tell him to take a step back. I’ll let him recover before I whoop his ass some more. I can’t wait. I cannot wait for this fight.”