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.
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“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.
UFC fighters describe Colby Covington as ‘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.”
Sponsors disavow UFC fighter’s discriminatory statements
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,” their statement read.
“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.”
MMA media shouldn't just ask black fighters about #ColbyCovington's comments. Ask ALL fighters. Put some pressure on the #UFC to change the culture. Make #DanaWhite know it's not okay to have a racist spewing that shit. #UFC253 https://t.co/XPXDzKKWOC— Trent Reinsmith (@TrentReinsmith) September 23, 2020
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.”
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