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Colby Covington's latest round of race-baiting draws ire of UFC fighters, Reebok

Jason Owens
·4-min read

Colby Covington has incited backlash from fellow UFC fighters and sponsors for his latest foray into race-baiting.

The top-ranked UFC welterweight contender defeated Tyron Woodley via TKO at UFC Vegas 11 on Saturday. Woodley used his fight-week platform advocating for Black Lives Matter. After defeating Woodley, Covington pounced on the opportunity to incite hate around the movement.

Covington: BLM are ‘terrorists’

“He’s standing up for lifelong criminals, Covington said of Woodley. “The Black Lives Matter is a complete sham. It’s a joke. They’re taking these people that are complete terrorists. They’re taking these people that that are criminals.”

Covington closed his commentary with a personal attack of Woodley, leaning on common political rhetoric used to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

“He’s a communist,” Covington said. “He’s a Marxist. He stands for criminals. He hates America, and that’s why he got broke tonight.”

Covington also goaded Nigerian welterweight champion Kamaru Usman with references to his "little tribe" and "smoke signals," according to ESPN.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Colby Covington attends the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Colby Covington attends the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

‘Flat-out racist’

Fellow UFC fighters heard Covington’s rhetoric and spoke out on Wednesday during a media session promoting UFC 253. They also levied criticism toward media for how Covington’s remarks have been framed.

“Let's be real, first and foremost,” bantamweight Sijara Eubanks said, per ESPN. “It wasn't ‘unfortunate.’ It was flat-out racist. It was racist. It was disgusting. It was quite frankly disappointing.”

Eubanks went on to compare Covington to Mike Perry, a UFC fighter who has repeatedly used the N-word in public.

“But to be fair, I think guys that talk like Mike Perry and Colby Covington, I think a lot of the things they say are racist and disgusting and should be reported as such, instead of ‘unfortunate’ or ‘controversial,’” Eubanks continued. “It's racist.”

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is headlining Saturday’s card. He also called out Covington and the public portrayal of his comments while speaking to the news media.

“This guy has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures, and no one says anything,” Adesanya said. “But it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys.”

Reebok disavows Covington comments

UFC sponsors have responded by distancing themselves from Covington to varying degrees in statements released to Bloody Elbow. Reebok called Covington out by name in a direct rebuke to his comments.

“Reebok is the uniform provider for the UFC, however we do not sponsor Colby Covington. We do not agree with the sentiments he expressed, and stand firm in our belief that Black lives matter. We stand with athletes and communities who are fighting for change.”

Monster Energy declined to acknowledge Covington while pointing to a generic stance on equality.

“Monster Energy will not respond on the comments of a Non-Sponsored Athlete. We stand by the statements on our website regarding Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.”

DoorDash also responded to Bloody Elbow with a generic statement on equality.

“DoorDash stands with our employees and community members to fight injustice, inequality and discrimination, and we remain committed to using our voice and platform to empower local economies to support equality.”

Same old schtick from Covington

Covington’s remarks on Saturday are nothing new. He’s regularly leaned into this persona as he’s promoted his fights. During a time of intense social division in the United States, Covington has aligned himself with President Donald Trump and the incendiary rhetoric Trump uses on the campaign trail. Covington is rarely seen in public without his “MAGA” hat.

The fight game has long trafficked in race baiting to sell events, and Covington has enthusiastically embraced the heel role. He also appears to have genuine affinity for Trump, who invited him for a White House visit in 2018.

UFC president Dana White has not commented on Covington’s remarks. UFC generally allows its fighters a wide berth to say what they want. White is also an avid Trump supporter, having spoken on his behalf multiple times on the campaign trail.

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