Bektic, a UFC featherweight, roomed with Covington for four years while they were both training at American Top Team. And he says that Covington’s outward personality now is not too far off from how Covington is in private.
“Colby, I think he’s always had a chip on his shoulder, that kind of guy,” said Bektic, who fights Ricardo Lamas at UFC 225 here at United Center on Saturday night. “He’s been through some things in his life, everybody has a story. I would say he feels better expressing himself. Maybe it’s a little icing on the cake, a little extra, maybe from somebody else that’s encouraging him to do it. But I think for the most part it’s Colby. It’s his personality. Whether he’s messing around or being serious, it’s him.”
Bektic said Covington was a bit of a “wild man” when the two roomed together. He said Covington wasn’t always around when they roomed together, either with a girl or at “the casino.” Covington’s public face — calling his opponents nerds, targeting Brazilians and all-but worshiping Donald Trump — is pretty much how he is, just turned up a notch, Bektic said.
“Maybe not that vocal,” Bektic said of Covington’s private personality with a laugh. “But yeah, he likes it. He likes it. It’s not a bad thing. It’s his thing.”
Covington’s mouth has made waves in MMA circles and his in-cage ability has vaunted him near the top of the welterweight division. He fights Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC interim welterweight title Saturday.
Bektic, who now trains at Tristar in Montreal, said he remains friendly with Covington now, but he has mixed emotions about his former roommate’s sometimes controversial remarks, like calling Brazilians “filthy animals.”
“I personally wouldn’t do it, I personally wouldn’t encourage it,” Bektic said. “But we always talk about a free country, everybody has an opinion. If he feels better being that way, it doesn’t bother me. If he says something to me personally, we can handle it a different way, but I don’t have a problem with it. I think maybe people shouldn’t take it so personally, either. But it’s hard not to. When you’re talking about a certain race or a certain culture, it’s like me saying ‘I hate America.’ But I live in America and America has done so much for me and my family.”
As far as how Covington will fare against dos Anjos, the former lightweight champion, Bektic is on the fence.
“RDA is tough,” Bektic said. “Those kicks, power kicks. He’s a tough wrestler. Definitely the toughest guy Colby has fought and it’s a five-round fight. So, I would plead the fifth.”