Preview: Covington Is Real, Fake, And Everything In Between

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight No. 1 contender, Colby Covington, will step into the cage this Sat. night (Dec. 14, 2019) to challenge reigning division titleholder, Kamaru Usman, for the promotion’s 170-pound strap.

Their five-round main event headlines the UFC 245 pay-per-view (PPV) fight card inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a lot of fans (and fighters) are upset because “Chaos” recently told the media his “bad guy” persona was an act.


Covington, 31, was on the UFC chopping block prior to his Demian Maia fight, despite his success inside the Octagon, because the promotion found it difficult to monetize his success. The “dominant wrestler who trains hard and does his job” shtick went out the window over a decade ago.

Sure, he could have stayed true to himself and followed all those antiquated dojo rules about honor and respect. But honor and respect don’t pay the bills these days and what does the average cage fighter have in terms of career longevity … five years? Ten if they’re lucky?

In this business, you can lose everything you’ve built with one loss.

Covington does not work for UFC, he works for himself. And he quickly recognized that he was never going to be “somebody” unless he manufactured his own success. It worked for Chael Sonnen and of course, Conor McGregor, so there was no reason to think it wouldn’t work for “Chaos,” either.

The character might be fake, but the consequences for playing it are 100-percent real.

“I’m not playing a character, I’m just being real,” Covington told MMA Junkie. “I think they don’t know what they’re talking about. I think I’m just turning it up to 11. I’m not afraid to speak my mind and speak what I really think inside. Before I was keeping those thoughts in because I was worried about how people would judge me, how the media would react, how the UFC would judge me for it. Now I don’t give a (expletive). I would care less what they think of me. At the end of the day I’m what’s good for this sport and I’m making money for this company.”

And himself.

Whether it pissed off a bunch of fans along the way and alienated his teammates (definitely) while tarnishing his public image (possibly) is irrelevant. Covington has to make as much money as he possibly can in this cutthroat business while the window remains open.

Remember that big speech UFC President Dana White made about fighters eating what they kill? He’s not wrong, which is why I was so surprised to see him rattled by Covington, who did exactly what White told him (and every other fighter) to do. Want more money? Make a name for yourself.

This is not a unique phenomenon and people who stand and shake their fist are revealing their real-world inexperience. Prior to my surprisingly fruitful career as shitty-headline maker, I worked for corporate America in New York City, watching with no small degree of terror as white collar warriors stabbed each other in the back, sabotaged meetings, fudged contracts, and embraced fake personas for no other reason than to land the big account.

Morals are a liability in that world.

“I’m just going to be myself always,” Covington continued. “I can’t say if I’m going to do one thing or not, I’m just going to be real. That’s what I’ve always been, is real. Maybe I’ll turn down some of the post-fight antics a little bit, but this is the entertainment show-business for a reason and I’m here to put on a show for the fans. It’s not just when you fight. You’ve got to entertain them year-round and that’s why the fans love me so much.”

Happy fans are paying fans. But then again so are unhappy fans. It’s when they don’t give a shit in either direction that spells death for an entertainer’s career, which is where the former Pac-10 champ was sitting prior to the Maia fight.

Covington hasn’t done anything Sonnen and McGregor haven’t done before him. And it’s not all posturing, either, as “Chaos” has earned his spot in the UFC 245 main event after capturing seven straight wins, three of them finishes. If you are naive enough to think he would have earned the Usman fight without diarrhea of the mouth, why don’t you go ask Leon Edwards — winner of eight straight — when he’s getting his 170-pound title shot.

And when he’s getting a raise.

I find Covington’s behavior to be a boorish retread of shit we’ve previously endured from fighter-entertainers who’ve already done it — and done it better. But am I supposed to be angry that he’s doing whatever it takes to make himself a star, for better or worse? Either way, it doesn’t matter one iota because it paid off. “Chaos” is fighting for the world title this weekend and getting a helluva lot of money to do it.

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