The war of words between UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington got more serious on Friday as the two went face-to-face for the first time at a press conference ahead of their showdown at UFC 245.
Covington went on the attack over the scheduling of the highly anticipated fight, which originally was targeted for UFC 244 before negotiations between the promotion and the athletes broke down, and lobbed a new accusation at his rival.
While the former interim welterweight champ previously had accused the UFC of low-balling at the bargaining table, he switched stances to accuse Usman of cheating and using performance-enhancing drugs. He claimed that was the real culprit behind the fight being delayed to Dec. 14 in Las Vegas.
“I was looking forward to fighting this weekend,” Covington said while looking in Usman’s direction. “That’s why the President of the United States is coming out. But there’s a reason why I’m not fighting this weekend, you might want to ask this guy.
“He pissed hot. He couldn’t pass a piss test. So that’s the real reason. He had to let the EPO get out of his system for this weekend.”
Erythropoietin — more commonly known as EPO — is a naturally occurring peptide that increases red blood cell production. It can also be introduced as a performance-enhancing substance that is typically used in doping to help increase endurance in due to the amount of oxygen carried to the body’s muscles.
A first-time violator of the UFC’s drug testing program can expect a two-year suspension for EPO. Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw was given that punishment after he tested positive for EPO following his loss to Henry Cejudo in early 2019.
UFC anti-doping partner USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) does not disclose anti-doping violations until they are resolved, and it won’t comment on pending cases unless an athlete first reveals a positive test. Such was the case for UFC 244 headliner Nate Diaz, whose admission of a failed test resulted in a public exoneration from USADA and the UFC.
In the majority of UFC anti-doping cases, a positive would almost certainly result in a provisional suspension that would force the delay of a fight. But there’s no indication Usman has ever faced any kind of penalty from USADA, and it’s impossible to prove or disprove Covington’s accusation.
Usman scoffed at his rival’s words and refused to be baited into an emotional exchange. But that didn’t stop the outspoken top-ranked welterweight contender’s tirade.
“Everybody knows the Blackzilians team is notorious for doing steroids,” Covington said about Usman’s team. “Anthony Johnson, Rashad Evans, all the guys over there, Alistair Overeem when he was over there.
“I have inside information that he was doing EPO for a couple years and that’s just that. That’s a fact. He has no good response. He can’t even defend himself. I think it’s pretty clear he’s on steroids but it’s not going to make a difference because when I get my hands on him, he will melt.”
Covington even took things one step further by offering to pay Usman to take a drug test on the stage while they were in the middle of the press conference.
“I’ll pay you $25,000 if you can pee in a cup right now and it passes,” he said. “I will. I’ll put it up right now.”
“Put your money up,” Usman responded.
Usman refused to engage Covington on PEDs. But he promised to take out his frustrations when they finally clash on Dec. 14.
“They all say that,” he said. “With the way I’m beating guys, they all say that. But it is what it is. Dec. 14 there will be a beheading, and everyone will see it and watch it live.”
Covington wouldn’t let it go, and he continued to jab at Usman on stage during several verbal exchanges.
“That’s not a very good explanation, buddy,” Covington said. “You sound like you’re stuttering over there. You OK? I know you gave Glenn [Robinson] a heart attack for all those years you were ducking me, so don’t worry, he’ll be watching from hell on Dec. 14.”
Despite all the personal attacks, Usman stayed calm and composed while pointing at the fight at UFC 245 as the time when he can settle his beef with Covington inside the Octagon.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I don’t avoid anything. I said yes to everything. All I’m waiting for is Dec. 14 that you guys finally get the fight you all wanted for so long. Real quick, let’s make some noise that Dec. 14 you guys can’t wait for me to murder this clown.”
The crowd roared its approval.
“Thank you,” Usman replied.