UFC president Dana White doesn’t seem particularly angry with welterweight Colby Covington over the controversy that he created at the promotion’s Fight Night event in Sao Paulo, Brazil late last month.
The American Top Team fighter was escorted from the Geraldo Jose de Almeida Gymnasium by security neath a hail of trash after he beat hometown hero Demian Maia and branded the local fans “filthy animals” in a post-fight interview. Covington didn’t attend the press conference which followed the show and he claims that the UFC had to place security outside of his hotel room for protection.
The reaction to his comments among the MMA community was mixed. Some felt that it was a relatively innocent, pro wrestling-esque attempt at self-promotion, while others felt it was distasteful in the extreme. Many Brazilian fighters and coaches were critical of Covington, including some of his teammates.
At the presser that Covington did not attend, UFC executive David Shaw said that the fighter’s comments would be reviewed and that the promotion would consider imposing sanctions on the surging 170-pounder.
White, however, doesn’t seem to feel that such action is necessary or justified.
“I mean, listen, at the end of the day, this is the fight business, and people say a lot of mean things,” White added. “I think the Brazilian people are tough enough to handle a guy saying some stuff to them at the end of the day.”
“You know, this has happened before. I don’t remember where we were, but Al Iaquinta told all the fans to go f-ck themselves and a lot of other things that weren’t very nice. Obviously we don’t like it, and we frown upon it, and I talk to these guys about stuff like that. But fighters get very emotional. It happens. I don’t think that the Brazilian people should take it personal.”
The 29-year-old Covington didn’t seem particularly intimidated by the prospect of sanctions anyhow, as he doubled down on his post-fight comments with a a sarcastic social media post hours later.
I went to work last week. I was screamed at, spit at, assaulted with water bottle and other objects by an angry mob and serenaded by 10,000 voices yelling ‘you are going to die,’” wrote Covington. “My employer had to place security at my hotel room to protect me.”
“I would like to formally apologize to any filthy animals I offended by comparing them to my hosts in Sao Paulo.”
Covington may have drawn criticism and whipped up controversy with his actions, but he is well aware of the positive power that can be yielded from negative publicity in the fight game. He has embraced the heel role with a gusto recently, and the added attention he has garnered as a result, combined with five straight wins – the latter of which came against one of the most feared fighters in the division – has landed him right into the welterweight title picture.