Colby Covington with US President Donald Trump
Colby Covington with US President Donald Trump Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Boxers and MMA fighter are not known to mince their words and it has been suggested that you take their often venomous comments with a pinch of salt. Rather a handful of salt.

Fans of combat sports love to see a black eye, bloody noses and mangled legs. But more than that they love the trash talk in the build up a fight and the vitriol rivals pile on each other with.


Ireland’s Conor McGregor is the undisputed king of trash talk and some of his insults have become stuff of legend.

For when he’s not knocking out opponents in the Octagon or getting in a ruckus with unsuspecting individuals at a restaurant, it appears that McGregor is busy trawling through social media sites to post a slew of insults on other MMA fighters’ twitter or Instagram accounts.

Sure, we all love to devour this and pretend that its part and parcel of the sport, something that adds a bit of Tabasco to the dog-eat-dog nature of MMA.

How far can fighters go in insulting each other is the question that is being asked after the latest controversy to hit MMA. Many are labelling comments made by Colby Covington following his recent defeat of Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 as racist.

Covington called the former champion “a communist” and “a Marxist,” and also hit out at Black Lives Matter, saying the movement “is standing up for lifelong criminals” and it’s “a complete sham” and “a joke”.

Was he out of line? Covington did not stop there, later after the fight he took aim at Kamaru Usman, who was working on the broadcast that night.

After receiving a call from President Donald Trump on the air following his massive win over Woodley, Covington found it was time to insult Usman, a Nigerian native living in America.

“Who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?” Covington shouted. “You’re a joke, Marty Fakenewsman!”

Jamaican-British mixed martial artist Leon Edwards was so agitated that he promised to take out the “racist scumbag”.

Edwards told MMA Fighting that facing Covington in the Octagon will give him the chance resolve the issue even if the UFC chose to remain silent and not censure the American for his actions.

“That’s what got me — the UFC has said nothing about it,” Edwards said. “ESPN has said nothing about it. Letting it flow like it’s a normal thing to say and do. He’s calling Woodley a terrorist because of Black Lives Matter! All these statements he’s making is racist. There’s no other way to go around it.”

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who is set to fight Brazilian Paula Costa at UFC 253 at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, thinks the problem is more deep rooted.

“It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now,” Adesanya said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I made a joke about dropping [Yoel] Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke and it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and digging — but I was making a joke.

“This guy has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures and stuff and no one says anything. But it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So yeah, I don’t really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw.”

Several other fighters like Hakeem Dawodu, UFC women’s bantamweight contender Sijara Eubanks also took strong exception of Covington’s behaviour.

“It is America, and everybody can say what they want, but to be fair, I think guys that talk like Mike Perry and Colby Covington, I think a lot of things they say are racist and disgusting,” she said.

“Like let’s be real, it’s racist. He’s calling the guy a Marxist and a Communist, and he’s saying that he’s un-American. Like if you’re born in this country, you’re American. I don’t give a damn. If you were born in this country, I don’t care what your background is, what your race is, what your socioeconomic status is, you’re an American and that’s it.”

Interestingly, there is a school of thought that Covington was just playing the bad man to support the UFC fan base, which in turn results in higher paydays, bigger television ratings and better opportunities for his career.

But where do you draw the line, and how far can you go to making racist remarks, even if you did not really mean it?