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Colby Covington calls title snub ‘a big f*ck you to the fans,’ says Dana White doesn’t have ‘the balls’ to release him

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As the dust settles on a flurry of weekend news, it is Colby Covington who appears to be the odd man out of the UFC’s welterweight title carousel.

Covington, the UFC’s current interim welterweight champion, was formally passed over in favor of Kamaru Usman for a March 2 title shot against Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. The booking of Woodley vs. Usman, which officially came together over the weekend, ended a months-long dispute between the UFC and the three welterweights over which 170-pound contender would get the next crack at Woodley’s welterweight belt. And for Covington, who captured his interim strap with a UFC 225 win over Rafael dos Anjos, the title snub was emblematic of a larger internal struggle between the American Top Team product and promotion officials that appears to have been raging since late last year.

Covington appeared Monday on The MMA Hour to explain his side of the story. He said the UFC offered him a chance to challenge Woodley on short notice on Sept. 8, 2018 at UFC 228, but he was unable to accept after undergoing surgery to correct a deviated septum and chronic sinusitis. Woodley ultimately fought and defeated Darren Till at UFC 228. Covington said he was then ready to challenge Woodley at either UFC 230 or UFC 233 after making a full recovery from surgery, but neither date came together, and Usman ended up leapfrogging him after serving as the official backup fighter for UFC 228 then outclassing dos Anjos in a November decision win.

“I was ready to fight in January in California and fight Woodley then,” a frustrated Covington told host Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour. “I was ready to fight in November. The only time I couldn’t fight is back in September in Dallas [at UFC 228], but I couldn’t fight because they offered me the fight on six weeks’ [notice] and I was already getting nose surgery. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose. I had mucus and blood draining down my nose into my lungs. I mean, I was at literally 30 percent.

“So all I did was ask for an extra two months instead of six weeks because they backed themselves into a corner in a matchmaking hole, and now they’re trying to hold this against me. But I find it funny because Dana White’s tone, he changes tone real quick. He heard from the UFC doctors, ‘Colby’s not cleared, he can’t fight in September in Dallas,’ and then he changed his tone. After the Woodley-Till fight, he was like, ‘Okay, Colby’s 100 percent fighting Woodley next, that’s the next fight to make,’ then all of a sudden everything’s changed — now they’re trying to hold it against me, ‘Oh, Colby’s not taking fights. That doesn’t fly in the UFC. Blah, blah, blah.’

“But let’s be honest: Dana, you don’t got the balls to release me. If you’re saying all of this stuff to the media, then release me. But you ain’t got the balls. You know I’m too valuable.”

A visibly irate Covington challenged White and UFC officials to release him from his contract numerous times throughout Monday’s interview.

Covington indicated that his inability to fight at UFC 228 is being painted as justification for his title snub, even though he claims both White and UFC doctors were acutely aware of the necessity of the surgery and timetable for his recovery.

“I was in no shape to fight in September in Dallas,” Covington said. “It wasn’t gonna happen, no chance. So if you want to punish me for not fighting in Dallas and [not] turning around on six weeks’ notice when I had surgery and was on every antibiotic and [drug] cocktail underneath the sun, then that’s cool. That’s your business decision. If you want to keep f*cking up your brand and moving shows from one city to another because a guy failed his third steroid test and he’s hitting pregnant ladies [in a] hit-and-run, so be it. I’m the ultimate professional. Show up on time, make weight, do everything they ask of me.

“Fly all over the country, fly all around the world, do whatever they want whenever they want. So, no big deal. If they don’t want a hard-working guy like me, then so be it. Where’s your balls? Show me your balls. If you’re so man[ly], you’re saying in all these videos that you don’t need me and I’m not worth anything and this and that, then let me go.”

When asked if he was being serious about his requests for the UFC to release him from his contract if a title unification bout isn’t his next fight, Covington indicated that he was.

“Absolutely,” Covington said. “But they’re not going to do it. They realize my value now. They realize how valuable I am. They know that I sell. They know that every single fighter in the welterweight division wants to fight me. They know that I’m the draw right now at welterweight. I made this division relevant. The only reason people care about Woodley and care about Usman is because they say my name. I’m the relevant one in the division. No one cares about anybody else. They just want to see me fight anybody, it doesn’t matter who it is. So they’re screwing the fans over, they’re screwing the people, and the people who are make their business run. So it’s a big f*ck you to the fans.”

Covington has built a controversial reputation for himself in recent years with the emergence of a trash-talking persona that is heavily aligned with American right-wing politics and U.S. president Donald Trump. Covington became the first UFC fighter to formally visit The White House last year when he and White met with Trump in Washington D.C. — a visit filmed by the UFC for a recent mini-documentary on the U.S. president. White, a longtime friend of Trump’s, also delivered a speech in favor of Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

But despite the two’s recent White House visit, Covington said he has zero relationship with White and was unable to even secure a meeting with the UFC president to sit down and discuss the muddled title situation before being passed over in favor of Usman.

“We tried to get sit-down meetings with Dana White,” Covington said. “We tried to get sit-down meetings with the UFC brass, ‘Hey, let’s talk this out, man. Like, this could easily be resolved, let’s just figure it out. You give everybody else meetings.’ I’m the one person they will not give a meeting too, so that’s unjust as it is. It’s unfair to me that they wouldn’t give me their meeting and hear my reasoning [about] why is this happening to me. I just want a face-to-face with one of those guys and them tell me why are you not getting this fight, and explain to me the reasoning and have valid points.

“Every time the UFC offers something, I just take it,” Covington added. “I’ve never asked for more money, not one time in my career. I fought Demian Maia for $30,000. The No. 2 guy in the world, I was fighting for $30,000. So I don’t care about money. It’s not about money. I’m in this to be the best fighter in the world, to put on entertaining shows, and to please the fans. That’s what it’s all about is the fans, and they’re shitting on all of their fans. So it’s sad. They want to fool the people and think that they can pull this fast one on the people, but really they’re pulling a fast one on themselves.”

Covington vowed numerous times Monday that the only matchup he is willing to accept next is a title fight, regardless of who it comes against. And when asked what will happen if the UFC asks him to play the same role Usman did for UFC 228 and serve as UFC 235’s official standby fighter, Covington was clear in his response.

“I’d say standby on this, b*tch,” he said while making a masturbatory motion.

“I’m standing [by] my guns. I’m not fighting for anything less than what I was promised and what I deserve — and that’s a title shot.”