Tyron Woodley has stayed quiet for long enough.
The reigning welterweight champion bit his tongue as Colby Covington talked and taunted his way to notoriety in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. But now that Covington is the interim 170-pound titlist, it’s open season on “Chaos.”
“I’m not gonna be nice, and I’m not gonna be talking sweet nothings about him,” Woodley said on ”The Morning Wood Show with Deez Nuts” podcast. “I’m gonna expose him and how he’s conspiring these things and writing these things out and has someone scripting it up for him. And text messages he’s sending me, ‘Hey man, you know I’m just trying to build up the fight. And I’ll see you at the end of the tunnel. I’m just trying to make money, man. This is what you did too. Don’t hate on me man, good luck in your next fight.’ I said, OK I’m not going to respond to you. You got your five minutes of fame. If you feel like that’s what you need to do, go ahead, man. I just block him and let him do it. I never responded. I never wanted to bring his name up. I never wanted to give him attention.
“Now brother you are in a position where you’re walking around with a doo-doo belt and you’re acting like it’s real. You about to get smoke.”
Covington has crafted an impressive resume since debuting in the Las Vegas-based promotion. The former NCAA All-American wrestler has been victorious in nine of 10 appearances, including a five-round verdict over ex-lightweight king Rafael dos Anjos in his most recent outing at UFC 225. Still, Woodley doesn’t understand why the UFC was in such a hurry to create an interim belt in his division when other champions have been dormant longer without the same consequences. Woodley last appeared at UFC 214, where he outpointed Demain Maia on July 29, 2017.
“I haven’t even been out a year. I don’t think any other champion has been out less than a year, who’s actually prepared to fight now, and has had an interim title fight placed in his division,” Woodley said. “I just took it with a grain of salt. Maybe now it’s actually pumping the fight up. I ain’t never wanted to f—k somebody up so bad in my life. I’m not going to lie to you.”
Like many in the MMA community, Woodley has not been amused by Covington’s antics, even if they are fabricated as he claims.
“In this situation, it’s a bad look. It’s a bad look for the Brazilian fighters. Because he is mostly training with Brazilian fighters in the gym [at American Top Team]. He’s all play,” Woodley said. “For him to play around with the sport to make it his game and his entertainment, it’s not cool.”
After Covington defeated dos Anjos, he vowed to take the interim belt to the White House and United States President Donald Trump.
“I did everything I said I was going to do,” Covington said after UFC 225. “I told everybody I was going to make the welterweight division great again, and now I’m going to celebrate how a real American should celebrate winning a world a title, and that’s going to the White House to see Mr. Donald Trump and put this on his desk, unlike the Filth-a-delphia Eagles disrespecting our flag and kneeling for the national anthem.”
Just as Covington attacked an entire nation when he was facing Brazilian opponents like Maia and dos Anjos, Woodley sees the White House request as another attempt to agitate a different group of people.
“He brought in the Trump thing because he’s fighting an African American fighter, and he knows it’s going to ruffle the feathers,” Woodley said. “He did the same thing with the Brazilians. He did the same thing when he was talking about [Michael] Bisping’s eye. The thing that he has to watch, when he starts talking about the race thing, is some people from Ferguson, Mo., without even my request, will take him off this earth. Some of this is play, but to some of them it’s real.”
While Covington’s taunts and insults might be according to a script, that doesn’t excuse him from being accountable for his actions, Woodley says.
“I’m gonna call him a racist because he’s racist to every nationality. He’s racist to whites, to blacks, to Brazilians..even if you’re premeditated, it’s all part of a script – I’m not willing to say certain things, I don’t [care] what it is. If it’s not in a movie and I’m not getting paid for that moment, I’m not gonna build up a fight and utilize hurtful things…I’m not gonna ruffle those feathers,” Woodley explained. “He’s doing what he thinks he needs to do. He’s just got to be careful. What I’m not gonna let him do, is I’m not gonna let him get to me the way RDA did.”
Covington’s path to success in the Octagon, against dos Anjos and most of his opponents, has been based on his wrestling and relentless pressure. Woodley, who also possesses a strong wrestling base, wants to take that aspect of the fight off the table, and he has issued a special challenge to Covington for when they do meet in a title unification bout.
“If he wants to play those types of games and that’s what he wants to do, I’m gonna challenge him. Fight me,” Woodley said. “For every time he tries to touch my leg, for every time he tries to take me down, you owe me $10,000. Let’s make a bet. I ain’t gonna try to take you down one time for the whole fight.
“You’re going to make this division great again? People want to see hands thrown. They don’t want to see wrestling and grappling,” he continued. “We could take it to the mat and put on a singlet if that’s what you want to do. I challenge you $10,000 every time you touch my leg or grab me and try to take me down, you owe me $10,000. We’ll see this fight end lickety-split. I might beat the knockout of Robbie [Lawler at UFC 214].”