UFC welterweight standout Colby Covington is unapologetic after offering “serious dirt” on Tyron Woodley after the champ demanded an apology from UFC President Dana White and threatened to “leak” damaging information.
Covington’s tweet spurred backlash from fans and fellow UFC fighters, including lightweight Kajan Johnson, who called him “lowest of the low.”
It also prompted a call from his manager, American Top Team chief Dan Lambert, who licensed the team’s name to Woodley for his “ATT: Evolution” gym in St. Louis (Lambert declined comment).
“What I would say is, where’s the money?” Covington told MMAjunkie when asked to respond to Johnson’s tweet. “It’s all about the money in this game. I’m trying to get the No. 1 spot and make a financially better future for me and my family. (Expletive) everybody else.”
Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) demanded the apology from White on “The MMA Hour” after White criticized his title defense against Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) at UFC 214. White also reneged on a verbal agreement to set up a fight with returning ex-champ Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) and indicated Woodley will next fight ex-champ Robbie Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC).
Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) then stepped into the breach, tweeting White and tagging Woodley.
“Don’t worry boss @danawhite I know some serious dirt on @TWooodley that would ruin his life. #fake.”
The 29-year-old up-and-comer said the message was a little bit of a troll and a little bit serious. But mostly, it was aimed at advancing his own interests.
“It’s a career move, if you want to call it that,” Covington said. “I’m looking for big fights, and I’ve got to promote and market myself any way I can. If people hate me and want to see me get knocked the (expletive) out, then sign someone the (expletive) up. I guarantee there’s not a man in the world that can knock me out now. It’s just a reminder that I am the No. 1 best fighter in the world right now.”
Woodley did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Covington’s remarks.
Covington, who in June outpointed Dong Hyun Kim for his fourth straight UFC win, previously has struggled to get opponents to fight him.
Today on MMAjunkie Radio, he noted ex-lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny both turned him down in favor of a fight against each other. He added Lawler – another former ATT regular – “knows what’s up.”
While Covington said he’s trained with Woodley on a few occasions, he doesn’t consider the champ part of ATT. Covington said he wouldn’t have blasted a teammate in the way he did Woodley. But because Woodley isn’t a teammate, the same loyalty doesn’t apply.
“He was here in the beginning, and he has an ATT gym – but at the end of the day, he has what I want,” Covington said. “He’s trying to ruin this sport. He needs to know that I’m here, and I want what he has.”
“When I first met Tyron, he acted real fake to me,” Covington later added. “I just think he’s a shady person. His character is not good. So I’m not afraid to attack his character, because he’s not everything he says he is. He’s a fake champion.”
Not surprisingly, Covington was not impressed by Woodley’s showing against Maia.
“I thought it was pathetic,” Covington said. “I’ve got some better footage of him in the gym throwing a strike. It was bad. He fights conservative. He’s not a real fighter. He doesn’t want to get into a tough fight. He’s got no gas in the tank, which is why I think it’s a good stylistic matchup for me. He explodes for one or two punches, but that’s about it. He plays it safe.”
Woodley defended his performance at the UFC 214 post-fight press conference and noted he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him from throwing his favored right hand with regularity. On “The MMA Hour,” he said he might’ve suffered a labrum tear, which could require extensive rehabilitation.
“Fans, they want to see blood, they want to see cuts, and they want to see a back-and-forth exchange,” Woodley said. “You also have to recognize that I’m fighting specialists. Stephen Thompson, I’m not going to sit there and try to out-spin kick him. I’m not going to take down Demian Maia and prove it’s time for me to get a black belt.
“I felt like it was a very tactical fight. I felt like I did everything and stuck to the game plan. I walk around with my head up and the belt around my waist.”
Covington is convinced if he had a chance to put the belt around his waist, fans would see a completely different type of fight.
“If you give me a welterweight title shot, I guarantee I’m going out there looking for blood, and I’m going to be coming forward for five rounds straight,” Covington said. “I’m not going to be backing up to the cage like a little (expletive). I’m going to fight, because that’s what people want to see.”
But in the meantime, he is eyeing a fight with Maia, whose world-class jiu-jitsu Woodley stymied over five rounds of lackluster action this past Saturday.
“Tell Google Translate that he’s a little (expletive), and I’m coming for his ass,” Covington said of Maia.