Ben Askren: Colby Covington’s perceived popularity was ‘staged’

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LOS ANGELES — Colby Covington is currently waging a one-sided war against the UFC and president Dana White. Covington believed, like many, that he should have gotten the next title shot against Tyron Woodley, which will now go to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Covington has called White pretty much every name in the book. He has threatened legal action, told the UFC to cut him and said that he may never fight again.

Ben Askren, who will make his UFC debut at UFC 235, said Monday at a media lunch that he doesn’t believe the latter will happen.

“Colby’s got no skills,” Askren said. “He’s gotta fight. … If he doesn’t fight, I don’t think one person in the whole world will shed a tear. Like, thank god that era is over. I think the UFC made it more than it was, because if you look at any of his social media he doesn’t have that many followers. There was never that much of a ‘We want to see Colby!’ It just wasn’t there. It was staged.”

Covington won the UFC interim welterweight title in June 2018, beating Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225. That should have set him up to fight Woodley later last year, but it didn’t come to fruition. Covington needed sinus surgery and the UFC moved on without him, setting up Woodley, Askren’s close friend and teammate, in a fight with Darren Till at UFC 228 back in September. Woodley beat Till by submission.

Once again, when Woodley’s time came up to defend the belt again Covington felt it should have been him standing across from the champion. But apparently Covington played hard ball. White said Covington wouldn’t get the shot on his own terms and the UFC went in another direction — Usman.

The undefeated Askren (18-0, 1 NC) doesn’t see himself fighting Covington any time soon. He has a date with former champ Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 this coming weekend. Askren, 34, is in the UFC to prove he’s among the elite in the world after dominant runs with Bellator and ONE Championship. “Funky” believes that Covington is a clear next contender for Woodley if he beats Usman anyway.

“I think that’s the obvious next fight for Tyron,” Askren said. “It’s an easy one, too. Who doesn’t like easy money?”




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