Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley are two of the best welterweights on the planet. They used to train together. Are they friends? Not exactly. Quite the opposite…
However, that doesn’t mean that the two can’t find some common ground which Covington was able to relate to after recently losing out on his expected title shot opportunity against the undisputed champion in Woodley.
Covington won the interim welterweight title in June 2018 which was just a month prior to when Woodley would have been inactive for a full year. Something that many in the community didn’t believe warranted an interim belt’s creation.
Woodley would return in September but wouldn’t face Covington as he was recovering from an injury… The UFC didn’t want to wait for him despite his interim champ status and availability for the month after.
Since then, Woodley has gone on to be threatened that he’ll be stripped on his title, and Kamaru Usman now takes Covington’s place against him in the next welterweight title bout at UFC 235 in March.
Because of this arguably unfair treatment to both men over the past so many months, and despite Covington’s critique of Woodley for his complaints about how he’s treated, Covington can agree that it actually may not have been fair after all.
“Absolutely,” Covington told MixedMartialArts.com. “We might not ever agree on anything else in our lives, but I absolutely agree with [Woodley] on that. He was treated unfairly. They want Woodley to fight every other month but other champions can go over a year without defending their belts and they’re not stripped, interim titles aren’t created.
“I’ll tell you what, I hope other fighters are paying attention to all this. I hope fighters with less big names are paying attention. Woodley won the belt, defends it, does his job, and they treat him like that. I’ve won six-straight fights, won a UFC belt, promoted the UFC, promoted the division, got fans interested in it again, sold me and Woodley as a huge fight that everyone now wants to see – they were saying he was boring and I got people interested in seeing him fight, again, even if it was so they could see him try to beat me up – I’m the number two ranked guy in the division, I became the first MMA fighter in history to be invited to the White House and pose with a UFC belt and the President of the United States. I did all that, and the UFC can still cast me off like this, break their word to me, take away my title, take away my title shot. Imagine what they’ll do to you.”
Having become an interim champion by the UFC’s decree, Covington has literally earned his guaranteed title shot as that’s the whole point of an interim title. It once was, anyway.
In the end, Covington continues to stay true to himself and not fight until he’s given what he was promised.
“The UFC can give me the title shot they promised me and that I earned or they can release me, either way… I’m going to be a thorn in their side,” Covington said.
“How can I make a living, then, if they don’t give me fights they promised, and won’t release me? That’s why this may end up having to go to court. If they won’t give me the fight or won’t release me, they’re affecting my ability to have a livelihood.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/11/2019