Usman and Covington’s beef further exposes the racial chasm in MMA.
However, one person took their trolling of Usman to the streets and confronted him after the win. It was none other than interim UFC welterweight champion, Colby Covington.
Covington, still bitter after being overlooked for a unification bout against Woodley, ran into Usman in the Palms buffet line. The two exchanged words and a minor scuffle ensued.
The heated exchange came after Usman won the belt and attempted to walk over to Covington, who taunted Usman cage side. Although all this energy helps build interest for future fights, it exposes the two schools of thought in the MMA industry.
As a young sport, MMA is just hitting its growth spurt and fighters of color are driving its rise. Like other industries where white men are beginning to feel an opportunity erasure, MMA is also having its power shift moment.
“That’s a tricky space to be in,” said Usman on the PRITTY Left Hook podcast. “At the end of the day, I’m not just doing this for me. I have a family that I have to support. I’m doing this to set up a line, generations for my kid’s kids to be okay. Its the new fad. It’s not back in the day to where when you run your mouth I’ll run down on you.”
And Usman did indeed run down on Covington. Famous for his love of MAGA hats, Donald Trump and hatred for Brazilians, Covington is a poor man’s version of Conor McGregor.
Along with fighters like Mike Perry, who uses the “N-word” colloquially in the open, this is unfortunately the new normal.
“You come at me that’s an issue, we got a problem,” continued Usman on the PLH podcast. “You can say whatever you want to say. I’ll have my opinion just like you have your opinion. Everyone will have an opinion about it. But these are the new school cats.”
“Like with Mike Perry saying this whole thing there’s another level where some people just don’t know no better. I don’t think he’s one of those people that have been educated on it. You can’t argue with somebody that doesn’t have any clue.”
With Covington being the next fight on Usman’s hit list, there are bound to be more fireworks in store. However, the real battle is how MMA will adjust to its newfound reasons to be attentive to diversity and inclusion.