Jorge Masvidal is less than a week away from being able to settle a grudge that has been brewing for the several years.
Masvidal is scheduled to meet former friend turned rival Colby Covington on Saturday in the five-round, non-title main event of UFC 272. The two welterweights were once roommates and teammates at American Top Team (ATT), however they began to grow apart around 2017 as Covington adopted a new trash-talking persona and began insulting various fighters and ethnic groups through the media. Covington eventually turned turned his barbs toward several ATT teammates and even Masvidal himself, which led to “Gamebred” confronting Covington in the stands at UFC 241 in August 2019.
The conversation between the two that night didn’t get physical, but what happened from there set the wheels in motion for what’s become one of the most heated rivalries in MMA.
“I go back to my seat and I see him waving down Dana White,” Masvidal recalled to ESPN ahead of UFC 272. “And I go, ‘Nah, there’s no way.’ You could ask Dana White this. He waves down Dana White and he tells Dana White that I’m trying to fight him, right there on sight. But this guy is talking all this sh*t on the internet that he’s a thug.
“Dana White calls me over and goes, ‘Man, are you trying to hand out three pieces and a soda, Masvidal? No, but seriously, don’t f*cking fight here at the event.’ I’m like, ‘Bro, all I wanted to do was talk to the guy outside, bro.’ Now he’s made it a problem by f*cking tell you, my coworker, that I’m trying to do all this. You’re snitching on me.”
Masvidal said the UFC then moved his seat far away from Covington for the rest of the night, and the two welterweights didn’t see each other again for a couple weeks.
By that point, Covington had repeatedly broken a rule put in place by ATT founder Dan Lambert that demanded ATT fighters not talk trash publicly about their teammates, and Masvidal had became one of Covington’s primary targets in interviews. So when Masvidal walked into the gym and finally saw Covington for the first time after UFC 241, “Gamebred” said he let Covington know that he didn’t appreciate how the situation was being treated.
“I come into the gym, random practice, and I see him there — and he kind of tries to ignore me,” Masvidal said. “And I was like, ‘Hey bro, after practice, we’ll talk.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, for sure, bro. Cool, cool. We’re talking.’ It’s pretty amicable, it’s not that bad. He’s like, ‘What do you want to talk about?’ I’m like, ‘I want to talk about you being a b*tch and bringing up my name in interviews when Dan [Lambert] has said not to.’
“I still haven’t gone public with him [at the time], I’m just trying to address him man-to-man. Like, let’s not go that route, bro. And if we are, first let’s just put the gloves on, beat the sh*t each out of each other, and then get it out of the system, you know?”
Masvidal said the conversation ended amicably enough from there, and so he turned to walk away. As soon as he did that, Masvidal said, the situation escalated tenfold.
“As soon as I turn my back and a couple people come with him, the show starts,” Masvidal said. “[Covington yells back,] ‘I’ll f*cking kill you, bro! Don’t ever talk to me like that!’ Literally, I said my peace, turned around, started walking this way. This guy is f*cking shouting out at the mouth while we’re like 10 feet away. I turn around, I come to confront him — it’s too late. The whole gym’s involved because he made such a show, right?
“So I tell him, there’s this place, this sushi place where we used to go to right here, and I tell him, ‘I’m going to go to the sushi place, bro. Dinner’s on me. Let’s go. I’ll be waiting for you.’ So I get in my car, go to the place — he’s not showing up. I get on Instagram, ‘Hey bro, if you want to collect your dinner, I’m over here.’ Blah, blah, blah.
“He never showed up,” Masvidal continued. “So I’ve always known, deep down inside, he’s a coward, man. And I just can’t wait for March 5 to expose it.”
Masvidal will get his chance on Saturday when the two former friends meet in a high-stakes battle at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
But what would’ve happened had Covington met Masvidal at their old sushi spot on that fateful day?
“I was probably going to break a bottle on his face,” Masvidal said coldly.