The lead-up to their previous fight turned nasty at times, and the personal jabs were heard early and often as the welterweights engaged in several heated exchanges against the backdrop of a raucous audience at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
While Usman attempted to keep his mind on the business at hand at the start, Covington then brought up the champion’s family with an insult directed at his father.
“Hey ‘Marty,’ is your daddy the jail bird coming on Saturday night?” Covington shouted, wearing a colorful suit with the sleeves adorned with “greetings nerds and virgins.” “I got a hookup with law enforcement if you want me to call his parole officer, I’ll make sure he can come on Saturday night.
“You want me make sure? I feel so bad for Mrs. Usman. She’s got a cheating-ass son and a scammer-ass husband. That must be sh*tty in that household.”
Rather than take the bait, Usman smiled and offered his response.
“Could you please make that phone call?” he said. “Please, I need him here to watch you get your face broken this time.”
Speaking of broken faces, Covington’s jaw from the first fight against Usman took center stage during many of the volatile exchanges.
While X-rays and a Nevada Athletic Commission report showed that Covington suffered a broken jaw in his first fight against Usman, the always outspoken welterweight contender now denies it ever happened.
Rather than acknowledge the injury, Covington opted to claim that Usman was trying to get out of the fight, allegedly faking a low blow and eye poke that slowed the action and allowed the champ to stage a comeback in the fifth round.
“He avoided this rematch at all costs,” Covington said about Usman. “Uncle Dana and the UFC had to force his hand. He was trying to fight other lightweights. He was trying to fight Nate Diaz. He was trying to fight anybody but this rematch. He knows who daddy is. He knows who really won that fight.
“If he didn’t fake timeouts the first fight, I would have destroyed him. It’s OK, better late than never. I don’t live in the past, Saturday night’s the future. I’m destroying ‘Marty Fakenewsman.’”
Of course, Usman got the last laugh by reminding Covington that no matter how much he denies it now, he left the octagon after UFC 245 in 2019 with his jaw separated in two pieces.
“Listen, if he’s saying that I was faking this or faking that to get out of the fight, but I didn’t,” Usman said. “I stayed in the fight and I broke your f*cking jaw.”
Away from the fight conversation, Covington also went back to some of his old favorites by claiming that Usman has been a lifetime cheater when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs.
Despite Usman never testing positive for any banned substances during his career, Covington still made the accusations, which then led to another ugly exchange on stage.
“We saw the photos yesterday, what’s all those injection marks around your stomach, bro?” Covington said. “Those look bad. I saw you with [Justin] Gaethje, you looked like sh*t. You can’t cover the chemical imbalance in your body, bro. You’ve got acne and craters all over your face and back.”
“This is another grown man up here talking about another grown man’s body,” Usman said in response. “Colby, is there something you want to tell us? You want to come out of the closet?”
Later in the press conference, a journalist asked Usman about placing a wager on him in the fight, and the welterweight champion answered by saying “Like Wesley Snipes said, you always bet on black.”
Covington then jumped into the conversation by adding “that sounds pretty racist to me.” Usman quickly countered, “Oh, you would definitely know.”
In the brief moments when the fight actually took center stage, Usman continued to taunt Covington over the result in their first meeting, which ended in a fifth-round TKO stoppage.
As much as he seemed to enjoy the war of words, Usman also paid homage to his opponent for bringing the best out of him professionally even if he couldn’t hide his personal feelings.
“I love what I brings to the table,” Usman said when addressing Covington. “He pushed me last time. I expect that from him this time. But as a person, he’s a rotten piece of sh*t, and I can’t believe his father let him put this persona on. He won’t spank you, don’t worry, Saturday night, I’ll do it for him.”
After mentioning Covington’s father, Usman then closed the show with arguably the most vicious shot fired all day.
“I’m looking at your dad over here in the corner, [all] respect my man, and I can just tell he’s embarrassed each and every time you open your mouth,” Usman said.
The confrontation between the UFC 268 headliners finally culminated in their faceoff, which ended with Usman shoving Covington as UFC President Dana White rushed between them to ensure the pay-per-view card didn’t start two days early.
Just after the fighters were separated, Usman shouted “you little b*tch” at Covington with the No. 1 contender firing back one last time, “you’re dead, motherf*cker.”