In combat sports, threats are an accepted part of the build-up to a fight. As UFC president Dana White is fond of saying, “This is not a nice sport. This is a very rough sport. We say a lot of mean things to each other, and justice gets severed at the end of the day.”
That’s all well and good when two fighters who can settle their difference in a cage are squabbling and quarreling. Although when a UFC competitor threatens a broadcaster, there is no “justice” that can be served, to quote White, and that’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
That’s exactly what Colby Covington did though, as he responded to what he perceived as a slight from UFC commentator Jon Anik with a clear threat.
“So, you wanted to lick my frickin’ balls in London, ‘Oh Colby! This, this, this!’” Covington said, “But then you want to go back behind the stage and cheerlead for a racist! So he associates with racism and Belal Muhammad.
“And, you know, Jon Anik, dude, I don’t want your kids to grow up without a dad. Just realize you live in Boca, I live in Miami motherf—ker. You’re not too far from me. So you better shut your f—king mouth. You poke the bear? Now you get the bear comes after you.”
Looking at the definition of a “criminal threat,” it seems like Anik might just have a case.
A criminal threat involves one person threatening someone else with physical harm or death. To be convicted, the prosecution must prove:
the defendant communicated a threat of harm to another
the defendant intended that the communication be taken as a threat, and
the threat was credible and specific so as to place a person in fear of harm.
But in reality, the UFC should make sure this and future cases don’t have to even get close to any legal proceedings.
Covington’s threats warrant a response from the UFC, and the organization needs to send a message that threatening UFC employees is not okay. Once that door is kicked open, nothing prevents a fighter from threatening a commentator for the perception of an incorrect or “bad” call or for backlash from a perceived “gotcha” question posed during an interview.
No UFC employee, not even a former or current fighter, should have to worry about some loose nut rolling up on them at work — or outside of work. The way the UFC can prevent that from happening is dealing with Covington in a way that shows these kinds of threats are unacceptable, not just in society, but in the UFC. Promotion officials too often shrug off this type of behavior as “well, this is a mean sport.” While that might be true, it’s also a professional sport, and the UFC needs to treat it as such.
Bloody Elbow reached out to the UFC for comment on Covington’s threat. The promotion did not respond before publication of this story.
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