The exchange went back and forth after Covington had already accepted a call from President Donald Trump just before he started engaging with Usman. That’s when Covington took aim at Usman by referencing his native Nigeria.
“Who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from, freaking, your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?” Covington shouted. “You’re a joke, Marty Fakenewsman!”
Covington also went nuclear when addressing Woodley and his support of the Black Lives Matter movement by calling him a “terrorist” and claiming “he hates America.”
While those comments earned a response from several fighters on the UFC roster, UFC President Dana White still abides by his earlier policy, and that means he’s not going to prevent his athletes from speaking their minds, even if it enrages and offends certain people.
White added his own take on Covington’s comments during the UFC 253 press conference on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.
“These guys all have their own causes, things, they’re own beliefs,” he said. “We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind.
“I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.”
When asked if he would denounce blatantly racist comments from any of his fighters, White scoffed at the question and answered “of course” he would.
Still, there are numerous athletes who took offense to what Covington said, including fellow welterweight contender Leon Edwards, who was disappointed in the lack of response from the UFC or ESPN after the segment aired this past Saturday night.
“That’s what got me,” Edwards told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “The UFC has said nothing about it. ESPN has said nothing about it. Letting it flow like it’s a normal thing to f**king say and do and it’s not. Your tribe and smoke signals and blah, blah, blah, and he’s calling Woodley a terrorist because of Black Lives Matter. All these statements he’s making is racist. There’s no other way to go around it.
“If it was the other way around, if a Black athlete was saying to a white athlete in that regards, people would report it straight away. I find it very weird that no one is stepping up and no one is saying anything. UFC isn’t saying anything about it. ESPN is allowing it to carry on.”