Colby Covington isn’t planning to just sit around while he waits for his next booking.
Should welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or Jorge Masvidal be forced to withdraw from their upcoming rematch at UFC 261 on April 24 for whatever reason, Covington is ready to step in as a backup fighter for that main event.
Covington, who lives and trains in Florida, told The Schmo that he will be in attendance at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., when the next UFC pay-per-view rolls around.
“I’m going to evaluate things when that fight happens,” Covington said (h/t MMA Junkie). “Everybody knows—The UFC hasn’t told me, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that I’m the backup guy. If anything happens, anybody gets COVID, anybody gets cold feet and pulls out of that fight, I’m showing up. That’s right down the road from me.
“We’re in Miami, Fla., right now. That’s three-and-a-half hours, four-hour ride. I’ll take a bus over to Jacksonville and I’ll be showing up for that fight. I’ll be there. So if anybody pulls out, I’ll be stepping in and we’ll evaluate from there. I just want to put on good fights and capitalize on my prime of my career, which is what I’m in. So we’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.”
No official statement has been made by the UFC regarding a possible alternate for Usman vs. Masvidal 2. The bout is a rematch of their UFC 251 meeting last July that Usman won by a lopsided unanimous decision. Masvidal himself was a replacement opponent for that bout as he stepped in on less than a week’s notice for Gilbert Burns, who was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
Usman went on to face Burns at UFC 258 in February. He successfully defended his title by third-round TKO, improving his spotless UFC record to 13-0. It was also Usman’s third title defense, a stretch that includes a fifth-round TKO of Covington at UFC 245.
Official or not, Covington is treating the next few weeks like a fight camp in the event that he is called upon.
“That’s up to Dana White and Hunter Campbell,” Covington said when asked if he expects to be weighing in for UFC 261. “That’s their decision. That’s their business and what they want. But I’m staying ready. I have my weight ready to go. I’m training, preparing like I am fighting April 24 for the world title. So if they want me to weigh in, I’d love to weigh in. If not, it’s okay. I’ll be there in attendance, and I’ll be ready to go in case anybody pulls out last minute.”
Should Covington end up serving as a replacement fighter on April 24, he will find himself standing across the octagon from a hated rival either way. Aside from his feud with Usman, Covington and Masvidal have long been involved in a public war of words after previously being friends and teammates at the American Top Team gym.
However, should his services not be called upon, Covington still expects to get a title shot sooner rather than later.
“Colby Covington in the mix is undeniable,” Covington said. “I’m still gonna be the No. 1 guy in the world. ‘Marty Fakenewsman,’ of course he’s looking for easier fights. He doesn’t want to give the people and the fans what they want. The people and the fans want round two of me and Marty Fake Newsman.”