Dubai: He has the support of one of the most powerful men in the world, but Colby Covington will need more than that when he faces Tyron Woodley in the main event at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 178 at Las Vegas, Nevada.
Covington, who is making his first appearance in the Octagon since his devastating loss to Kamaru Usman at UFC 245, has the backing of US President Donald Trump, whom he joined at an election rally in Nevada at the weekend.
“I’m going to be watching Colby, I’m a big fan of Colby,” the President said on Twitter.
“He’s a winner, he’s a champ. It’s going to be a great evening and a great fight and I just want to wish the best of luck. But I’ve seen him a lot and he’s tough, so good luck, champ!”
There has been a lot of bad blood between the two fighters who were kept apart during Thursday’s pre-fight news conference, where Covington (15-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC) sported a “Keep America Great” baseball cap while former welterweight champion Woodley (19-5-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) chose to repeat the “Black lives matter” statements.
“Animosity. You’ve got two guys who want to take each other’s heads off,” Covington told MMA Junkie. “You’ve got red v blue. You’ve got me capitalism v him communism. You’ve got MAGA v maggots. This is a heated rivalry.”
Woodley has been training with Covington’s former teammate, Jorge Masvidal, but Covington brags that the only thing he learnt was how to lose.
“I thought that was a great game plan for Tyron Woodley, to train with a guy I used to beat up every day so he could learn how to lose to me,” Covington said.
“The only thing they game plan is how they’re going to make their alimony payments. I compare him to the Tin Man; he has no heart.
“So I just knew if we ever crossed paths it was going to be an easy night for me, and that’s what’s going to happen on Saturday night. It’s going to be easy money. I’m going to expose him.”
A victory on Saturday could set up Covington for a rematch with Usman or against Masvidal.
“Both of those guys are going to get it,” he boasted “It doesn’t matter in which order it goes, it could be ‘Marty Fakenewsman’ or ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal.
“They’re both going to get it unless they’re both cowards and tuck their heads between their tails and run off. Those are the only two fights I’m looking for after I end Tyron Woodley’s career on Saturday night on ESPN.”
Woodley was equally aggressive in his comments on fighting Covington.
“I want to knock him out to the point that when they’re raising my hand and they’re talking, they’re still gathering him,” he said.
“Hopefully, they’re stretchering him out and trying to get his legs to unstiffen, and still trying to get the mouthpiece out of his mouth. No I’m not gonna shake his hand. I’m not gonna shake his coach’s hand most likely. This is for real for me.”
The co-main event features a welterweight clash between Niko Price and veteran Donald Cerrone.
Cerrone (36-15 MMA, 23-12 UFC) has more than 50 professional fights and has shared the cage with the biggest names in the sport while Price (14-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) acknowledged that he is a big fan of the Cowboy.
“I watched videos of him and tried to do what he does. I love that guy,” he said during Thursday’s virtual media day,
“He’s a beast — great style, great person, great fighter, class act. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sour. I learnt my sportsmanship from someone like him.
“I’m blessed. I have blessings upon blessings upon blessings on me. I’m trying to capitalise all these blessings that I get and show you guys that I’m worthy to be here and that I’m not alone up here. Even though it may look like it, I’ve got God by my side.”
Live UFC Arabia (from 1am UAE Sunday)
Welterweight: Colby Covington v Tyron WoodleyWelterweight: Donald Cerrone v Niko Price
Middleweight: Khamzat Chimaev v Gerald Meerschaert
Light heavyweight: Johnny Walker v Ryan Spann
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern v Randa Markos
Middleweight: Kevin Holland v Darren Stewart
Flyweight: Jordan Espinosa v David Dvorak
Flyweight: Mayra Bueno Silva v Mara Romero Borella
Bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark v Sarah Alpar
Featherweight: Darrick Minner v TJ Laramie
Bantamweight: Journey Newson v Randy Costa
Bantamweight: Andre Ewell v Irwin Rivera
Bantamweight: Tyson Nam v Jerome Rivera