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The UFC’s outfitting partner is not on board with Colby Covington’s views regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reebok issued a statement to Bloody Elbow condemning the comments Covington made on the issue following his victory over Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night 178 this past Saturday in Las Vegas. The apparel company, which has partnered with the UFC since 2015, does not have a separate sponsorship deal with Covington as it does with many of the promotion’s athletes. However, Covington is required to wear Reebok apparel during fight week and in the Octagon as part of the outfitting policy.
“Reebok is the uniform provider for the UFC, however we do not sponsor Colby Covington,” the statement read. “We do not agree with the sentiments he expressed, and stand firm in our belief that Black lives matter. We stand with athletes and communities who are fighting for change.”
Reebok’s deal with the UFC will run through March, and then Venum will become the promotion’s official apparel sponsor.
Covington has risen to prominence in part because of his penchant for making controversial remarks in recent years, and his latest might have been the most inflammatory yet during a tense period in the United States when many in the country are focused on social justice issues.
“The Black Lives Matter is a complete sham,” Covington said at the post-fight press conference. “It’s a joke. They’re taking these people that are complete terrorists. They’re taking these people that are criminals. These aren’t people that are hardworking Americans, blue-collar Americans. These are bad people. They’re criminals.
“They shouldn’t be attacking police. If you’re breaking the law and you’re threatening the cops with weapons, you deserve to get what you get. Law enforcement protects us all. If we don’t have law enforcement, it’d be the wild wild west.”
Covington also took aim at Woodley, calling him a “communist” and saying “he hates America” before engaging in an ill-advised argument with former foe — and reigning UFC welterweight champion — Kamaru Usman during the post-fight show on ESPN. Covington had received a congratulatory call from United States President Donald Trump moments earlier.
“Who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from, freaking, your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?” Covington said. “You’re a joke, Marty Fakenewsman!”
Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White said that the promotion wouldn’t punish Covington for his words.
“One of the things that we’ve never done here at the UFC is stop people from expressing how they feel about certain things inside or outside the Octagon,” White said at the UFC Fight Night 178 post-fight press conference. “Even if it’s me, if it’s about me. Who’s more about free speech than we are? We literally let our people do or say whatever it is they do. It’s normal.”
Covington’s remarks have drawn the ire of black athletes in the UFC, and those who are competing at UFC 253 on Saturday expressed their displeasure with the controversial welterweight, including reigning middleweight king Israel Adesanya.
"It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now," Adesanya said during a media day event. "I made a joke about dropping [Yoel] Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke and it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and like, digging -- but I was making a joke.
"This guy [Covington] has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures, and no one says anything, but it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So, yeah. I don't really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw [when they fought in 2019], so I don't really care.”