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This weekend, UFC 245 storms the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It is an action-packed card featuring three title fights, the event holds a special significance: the settlement of the Usman vs. Covington grudge.
For about two years, UFC interim welterweight champion, Colby “Chaos” Covington has kept himself on the broader MMA radar through trash-talking.
From calling Brazilians “filthy animals” that live in a “dump” during an Octagon victory speech in Brazil to blatantly misogynistic social media posts, Covington knows how to stoke the game’s embers.
However, his recent revelation that this persona is a gimmick that he conjured to stay signed with the promotion is extremely telling. Covington recently disclosed that the douchebag schtick was a result of his desire to stay in the UFC during a time he felt on the chopping block.
“I think my big break – I’ve never told this story before – but three fights ago before I fought the No. 2 guy in the world, this guy named Demian Maia in Brazil, they had told my manager Dan Lambert that they weren’t going to re-sign me,” Covington said on The Candace Owens Show. “They didn’t like my style. They didn’t like that I wasn’t entertaining, and this is before I really started to become an entertainer and understand the entertainment aspect of this business. So before this fight, they told me no matter what happens – I was ranked No. 6 in the world – we’re not re-signing you.”
“‘We don’t like your character. We don’t like your fighting style’ And I’m getting paid $30,000 to go fight the No. 2 guy in the world. Like, after you pay taxes and pay your coaches, you’re really going to get like five or ten thousand dollars. So I go out there. I beat him up and leave him in a pool of his own blood in Sao Paulo, Brazil, his home city, and I shoot this promo on the Brazilians, and I say, ‘Hey, you guys are all a bunch of filthy animals, and Brazil, you’re a dump.”
Much like his predecessor, Conor McGregor, “Chaos” knows that controversy sells and his comments in Brazil put him in the crosshairs of MMA fans worldwide. It is the precipitation of anti-Islamic statements made by McGregor in his lead up to his now-legendary loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC
Fast-forward to his interim welterweight championship win over another Brazilian, Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 225 in June 2018.
Covington has become the newest divisive personality success story in combat sports. Donning a MAGA hat and embodying the unapologetic hubris of his hero, America’s 45th President, Covington knows how to appeal to the UFC’s core audience.
What Covington exposes is the UFC’s free-for-all political and cultural polarization that leans heavily in one direction. Knowing this, Covington used it to propel himself into the limelight.
He’s not alone.
Fellow American Top Team fighter Nik Lentz shouted out his “homie” Trump’s Supreme Court Justice appointee, Brett Kavanaugh during his post-fight interview at UFC 229 last year.
Of course, all the political leanings aren’t checked because Dana White is a huge Trump supporter. Like Trump, White worships at the Church of Gwop, so any fighter that generates a bankable buzz usually gets a pass from the brass.
Unremarkably though, it seems to only be acceptable for fighters that espouse both conservative and culturally inappropriate views. The question is: regardless of who wins, should the fans accept this as promotional business as usual or begin rejecting the UFC’s offerings?
With UFC megastar Conor McGregor set to return in 2020, Covington is attempting to monopolize the disgruntled justified white guy role, Usman is his Khabib Nurmagmedov.
Hopefully, this weekend’s event won’t be a fiasco like McGregor and Nurmagomedov’s pairing even though the damage from similar promotional elements has already occurred.