Covington and Woodley have been engaged in a heated feud for years now, with the former American Top Team training partners stoking the flames of a potential fight as they each continued to find success in the crowded welterweight division. For various reasons, a matchup between the two has never materialized, but they recently found themselves campaigning to fight one another once again.
With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the UFC schedule, Woodley’s main event clash with Leon Edwards that was supposed to take place in London on March 21 was scrapped—the event itself would soon be canceled entirely—leaving Woodley without a booking. After reports came out that lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return to Russia could rule him out of a bout with Tony Ferguson that was set to headline UFC 249, Woodley and Covington both suggested on social media that a fight between the two of them could save the show.
An interim lightweight title bout between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje was instead booked as the new UFC 249 main event, again putting the Woodley vs. Covington bout on the backburner. Covington appeared on the What the Heck show to explain his account of the latest Woodley rumors and why a fight between the two of them has to happen someday.
“The thing is, I’m not second fiddle,” Covington said. “I don’t play second fiddle to anybody, so what I’m trying to say is when the Tony and Khabib fight fell apart, they said that that fight wasn’t gonna go on, I called the UFC, I said, ‘Hey, I want that main event slot. I want to drag Woodley around for five rounds. I want to f*cking talk s*it in his ear in an empty arena in front of the whole world to see him, but I want it to be on free TV because I want every single person in the world to be able to witness this ass-beating. Witness me absolutely retire Tyron Woodley and so we never have to hear the fake news outta his mouth again.
“Once they found out that they wanted to do Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje, they didn’t really talk about that. They talked about maybe pushing that fight back a couple of weeks and now we’re talking about maybe doing it on Dana White’s fight island, but let’s be honest, this is not a prelim fight. Yeah, Tyron Woodley could have fought on the prelims versus ‘Leon Scott’ [Leon Edwards] or some guy named ‘Dilbert,’ [Gilbert Burns] but those are other bum, no-name, jobber fights. You’re talking about a king, you’re talking about the main event, you’re talking about the people’s champ, America’s champ. You’re talking about Donald Trump’s favorite fighter. I don’t play second fiddle to nobody, especially some lightweight little jobber gatekeepers. I’m a main event and I deserve a main event spot and five rounds, and anything less I’m not gonna fight for.”
In fairness to Woodley, Covington doesn’t believe that any formal fight offer was ever put together by their management or the UFC matchmakers. But that hasn’t diminished his desire to finally step into the cage with his rival, especially if it takes place on ESPN to maximize viewership.
According to Covington, he initially wanted to step in for Edwards to fight Woodley on March 21 if that event had been moved to the United States. With major sporting organizations around the world shutting down due to COVID-19 concerns, Covington sees it as his responsibility to provide entertainment. Rather than meet at UFC 249, he’s looking forward to facing Woodley on one of the upcoming cards that UFC President Dana White has said could take place on a private island.
“I thought they were coming to the U.S. [on March 21] and I thought it would be a great opportunity to save that fight and do it on ESPN for the people,” Covington said. “While the people are stuck at home, I can be the one, the savior to save sports. Sports is dead. Everybody’s dying for something and they’re dying for this fight because this fight is multiple years in the making. This fight is beyond personal.
“There is a serious beef between me and Tyron Woodley and it needs to be settled. And the only way it’s gonna be settled is we’re gonna do it on Dana White’s fight island, I’m gonna end that b*itch, he’s gonna be dead, and then they can just throw his dead body to the sharks in the private island.”
Though Covington has Woodley firmly in his sights, he’s also open to a rematch with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. In the main event of UFC 245 in December, Covington and Usman battled for almost 25 minutes before Usman finished the fight via strikes with less than 60 seconds remaining.
It’s a wound that is still fresh in Covington’s mind and he reiterated that he feels the bout was stopped prematurely. However, his focus right now is on not just settling the score with Woodley, but sending “The Chosen One” into retirement.
“I promise you I’m on both hands and knees begging, praying that it happens,” Covington said. “The thing is that I’ve been running down Tyron Woodley for so many years now. I mean, we’ve trained together in the gym, so he knows how good I am and he knows he can’t stop me. This is the same guy that I scared into an elective shoulder surgery. He was ready to fight lightweights when I was the No. 1 contender, but then he got elective shoulder surgery and the division must move on. I must defend my title and I fought a scarier guy.
“This is also the same Tyron Woodley that was scared to fight Robbie Lawler and I had to come out and fight Robbie Lawler with half my face torn off it off four weeks’ notice with no training camp. This is also the same Tyron Woodley that’s come out in interviews saying he’s broke and he’s desperate and we all know he can’t rap because that s*it is pathetic. The s*it he be rapping about these days is absolutely washed-up garbage and I want to take the trash out. That’s what I’m gonna do with Tyron Woodley, I’m gonna take the trash out. If we’re talking about percentages and how likely it is to happen, it’s 100 percent on my side. The ball’s on Tyron Woodley’s court.”