Whether by insulting the entire country of Brazil or engaging in a street altercation with a former UFC heavyweight champion, Colby Covington has made plenty of noise since his win last month over Demian Maia. But one man who has said little about the controversy surrounding Covington is also the one man who holds what Covington covets most: UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
And for Woodley, who repeatedly called Covington’s actions “embarrassing” on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, there’s a reason for his self-imposed silence when it comes to the division’s loudest contender.
“When I’m looking down the scope and I’m looking through my sniper rifle, you’re (Covington) not in the crosshairs,” Woodley said Monday. “There’s so many other fighters that are right in that mix that I’m looking at. There’s guys who are fighting, maybe rematches and former champions from different divisions, and people who are really running through it. There’s a lot of hungry guys, and he’s in that category with guys like Darren Till, Kamaru Usman. He’s right in there.
“The difference between them and him: Those guys are doing it with their gloves. They’re doing it with their actions. He’s just thinking that he’s supposed to talk his way into a title shot, and it’s sad that our sport does that.”
It’d be an understatement to say Covington has campaigned hard for the next shot at Woodley. Since defeating Maia at UFC Sao Paulo, Covington has essentially waged war against Woodley on social media and in the press, insulting the champion relentlessly in pursuit of a fight for the welterweight title. And with the 170-pound division currently loaded with challengers but absent a clear-cut No. 1 contender, Woodley simply isn’t buying what Covington is selling.
“When you’ve got a person who, he had 5,000 followers until he disrespected an entire country, he doesn’t quite put himself on that same radar,” Woodley said. “When you’ve got a person who fabricates and makes up stories — Chael Sonnen was good at it, Michael Bisping is good at it, Conor McGregor is the best at it. If you’re going to go that road, at least sound right. Don’t on one hand be (saying), ‘I’m this tough guy,’ and your script sound stupid.
“Fans want to see blood and knockouts. They don’t want to see some guy just take somebody down over and over again. So I just find it really corny. And yeah, it’s worked, he talked himself into the Demian Maia and Dong Hyun Kim (fights), two guys I (beat). I wrote the book on Maia; he went out and checked it out at the library. Checked the book out, read it, and went out there and got bloodied by a jiu-jitsu guy. Now he thinks he’s going to fight for a title. Sit down somewhere. He’s embarrassing himself.”
Covington, a product of American Top Team, has used a past gym battle with Woodley as one of the main focal points of his campaign for the title shot, repeatedly claiming that he made Woodley quit in a sparring session at ATT.
But when he hears Covington’s stories, Woodley can’t help but laugh.
“I like to let the things in training camp stay in training camp, but his (story) is so hilarious, (with) how many eyewitnesses (we had), so much video,” Woodley said. “Like, I don’t know if he remembers that my gym is camera-ed, so there’s so many videos that show the training. It’s just funny that he would just go on this rant, because he knows. I told him personally. … ‘Do whatever you want to do with it. If this how you feel like you need to make your name, have at it, do what you need to do.’ I said, ‘But I’m not going to give you the time of day.’
“He said, ‘I’m just trying to build a fight, man. I’m trying to make us both money.’ I’m like, ‘I’m already making money. What are you talking about? You don’t need to help me. I’m making money. I’m making more money on FOX than you make in fighting, so why would you need to help me out?’
“When he was the up-and-coming wrestler import, I was the guy who was like, ‘Oh, look, Colby’s here, he’s a wrestler too,’ kinda show him the ropes kind of deal. No respect, man. I remember what I paid him for training camp, that was all the money he had to his name, what I gave him. It was his whole life savings, what I paid him in training camp. Just the irony of this guy.”
Woodley said he first met Covington at ATT when the brash 29-year-old was still in the infancy of his MMA career. And when he sees where Covington is now, calling Brazilians “filthy animals” on national television then pressing charges against Fabricio Werdum for a minor street altercation before UFC Sydney, Woodley isn’t surprised.
“When he came to my gym, he was like, ‘Oh, I need a manager who will pay me to manage me. I need a manager to pay me $40,000 to manage me. I need to be in the UFC right now.’ And at the time, he had one fight,” Woodley said. “He wanted me to tell him how to get sponsors and use my media kits. I’m like, dude, you need to sit down somewhere. I mean, some of his sponsors are from me, so it’s kinda funny. Like, ask him. Some of his sponsors are from me, and they stopped sponsoring him because he’s a complete moron. He makes the sport look horrible. He should’ve been suspended for what he said about Brazil.
“Imagine he hadn’t said that. Imagine Tyron Woodley says that. I might’ve gotten kicked out of the UFC. Imagine me saying that. Come on now, be for real. Tyron Woodley saying that on the microphone — do you think that’s going to go by under the radar, then they’ll give me a guest appearance at a fight? And even more embarrassingly, you want to press charges because you got hit with a boomerang? Dude, get out of here. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to say he’s in my weight class.
“He should be kicked out of the UFC. Make that the headline. Tyron Woodley says Colby Covington should be kicked out of the UFC for pressing charges for somebody air tossing a boomerang in a plastic bag at his shoulder.”
Woodley is currently angling for a Dec. 30 fight against Nate Diaz — a fight Woodley said the UFC offered to him but Diaz has thus far not accepted. If that booking doesn’t come to fruition, Woodley said he’ll likely end up getting shoulder surgery on the torn labrum he suffered in his UFC 214 title defense against Maia, which would keep him out of action for some time.
As for Covington, Woodley said the UFC hasn’t even brought up Covington’s name when talking about potential matchmaking.
“They know better than that,” Woodley said. “They just let him have his fun. This dude is talking about the money fight, and not even to be arrogant or whatever, he’s never seen a six- or seven-figure paycheck in his life. Like, if he’s fighting, I can sit there and watch television and get pay-per-view checks that come in that are maybe five to 10 times the amount of his entire purse. So why would I sit there and try to put him in a position to finally get to the point where he’s making a six-figure payday?
“That’s not my job. He has to do that, and the old-school way. Look at Kamaru Usman — how’s he doing it? He’s doing it by fighting guys. He’s looking for fights. He’s not faking like his foot’s hurt. Colby Covington could fight him right now, Dec. 30, but he said his foot’s hurt. So, I just don’t have any respect for guys like that. I think it’s very disgraceful to our sport. It was built on hard work, guys taking big fights.”
Considering the current state of the UFC welterweight division, Woodley said he expects Covington to need to fight at least once or twice more to actually get a title shot. But if and when Covington does secure the opportunity he desires, Woodley is confident Covington’s run to the top won’t end like “Chaos” expects.
“He’s doing what he feels he needs to do to try to get (a title shot), but I’m telling you, sometimes people ask for something and it’s something that they don’t want,” Woodley said. “If he actually gets himself in position to be across the Octagon with me — one, two, three, whatever fights it takes him to get there — I promise you that it’s not going to end well for him. He’s never going to fight again.”