The UFC seems like it has a problem. After years of claiming that the promotion would never find itself in boxing’s position, where top fighters often circle one another for years before stepping into the ring to actually face off, Dana White & Co. increasingly find themselves with a roster of elite talent happy to wait on the sidelines for just the right bookings.
One of the most prominent recent examples has come in the form of the freshly announced upcoming fight between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev. Costa, a former title challenger, and Chimaev, a fast rising star, have been talking up a fight for the better part of the past year. But visa issues, contract negotiations, and a seeming general interest in targeting specific big PPV events has meant that neither man has yet to step in the Octagon in 2023.
According to UFC president Dana White, the two middleweights will finally fight at UFC 294, on October 21st in Abu Dhabi. Despite an apparent lack of significant injuries for either man, that will mark more than a year since they’ve been seen in competition.
Colby Covington has his doubts
One of the men who was in Khamzat Chimaev’s sights over the last year he’s been riding the pine was top ranked welterweight title contender Colby Covington. ‘Chaos’ has been trading words with ‘Borz’ through interviews and social media going all the way back to 2020, just a few months after Chimaev made his Octagon debut.
“If you wanna bring the hype machine behind this kid and think they are great and they can do this and that. That hype machine will get halted in a second if they come see Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington,” Covington told Submission Radio after Chimaev’s win over Gerald Meerschaert. “And that’s dragon energy.”
Given their history, it’s no surprise then that Covington had a few thoughts about Chimaev’s newly announced return to the Octagon against Costa. It’s also not that surprising that none of those thoughts were positive.
“Dude, just, let’s just see if they can get to the cage first,” Covington said in another recent Sub Radio interview. “Those guys are some of the biggest jokers in the sport. Just, complete fakes, frauds. That’s why someone like me… The reason I’m in the good graces of the UFC is because I’m a company man. I’m gonna show up every time. I’m a professional.
“Look at it, they called me up on two days notice to be the backup fighter. I’m going out there, I’m cutting 18 pounds and making weight on two days notice, ready to fill in and win the welterweight title. Because I’m a company man. I show up. I never pull out of fights. I show up to every fight. So I’m the biggest, ultimate company man, reliable guy, you know? I’m someone the company can truly count on.
“I always show up, bring the biggest and best business, and that’s why this fight [with Leon Edwards] needs to be on the MSG card, because I doubt [Jon Jones] even makes it to the cage. But if he does? Even better. We’ll just put on the biggest gate in this history of Madison Square Garden.”
Colby Covington knows what he’s talking about
When it comes to guys that rarely seem to fight anymore, Colby Covington seems to have the inside track. The one-time interim welterweight champion hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon since defeating Jorge Masvidal back in March of last year.
In part, that may be because of his ongoing court case against Masvidal, who Covington claims assaulted him outside of a restaurant in Miami shortly after their fight. Covington was said to have suffered a broken tooth in the incident, and has reportedly since claimed he suffered a “brain injruy” in court documents for the case.
Mostly, however, it seems the former ATT standout and current MMA Masters fighter has been cooling his heels in anticipation of getting another welterweight title shot, something he apparently secured by stepping up for the backup fighter role for Leon Edwards’ trilogy fight with Kamaru Usman. All told, after competing 17 times in the first seven years of his career, Covington has only fought three times in the last 3.5 years.
As for all the ‘company man’ talk? Fans don’t have to go too far back to find a time when Covington was much less chummy with the UFC front office.
Back in 2019, then interim-title-holder Covington had a notorious run in with Dana White, tracking down the UFC boss while he was gambling in a Vegas casino to demand an explanation of why Kamaru Usman was getting the title shot instead of him. Shortly afterward, White addressed the incident at a press event.
“Colby Covington, he’s another perfect example,” White explained, speaking of fighters not taking fights. “He was offered the fight. He didn’t take the fight. And he can come up with a million excuses on why he didn’t take the fight. You were the interim champ, you were next in line for Tyron Woodley. We offered you the fight in Dallas—or somewhere in Texas—he didn’t take the fight and that’s that.”
Then there was the incident with Polyana Viana, where Covington claimed that he was too busy shacking up with the UFC strawweight to take a 2021 bout against Leon Edwards. That fight went to Belal Muhammad instead, resulting in an unfortunate ‘no contest’ due to an eye poke in the second round.
“There wasn’t much talks,” Covington said of turning down the fight. “I was balls deep in Polyana Viana, so to get me off the couch on three weeks notice to fight some Leon (Edwards) guy, it was going to be a price tag.”
Viana later denied any kind of relationship with Covington, calling his comments “revolting,” and saying that the two were “just friends.”
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