Why didn't the UFC welterweight championship fight between titleholder Kamaru Usman and challenger Colby Covington get scheduled for UFC 244 as planned? Covington said it's not his fault. He's simply tired of being treated unfairly.
Usman vs. Covington was expected to headline UFC 224 on Nov. 2 in New York City, but when negotiations stalled, UFC president Dana White found an excitement inducing match-up between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal staring him in the face. He jumped at it and now Diaz vs. Masvidal is the UFC 244 headliner.
There has been a lot of talk from a lot of people about why the negotiation broke down, but Covington on Monday said not to blame him.
“What happened exactly was the UFC came to me and offered me a basic challenger’s rate,” Covington told MMA Fighting on Monday. “I said no, I’m not challenging. I’m champion. I’ve never lost, I just defended my title. I brought in the Trumps. I got a tweet from (U.S. President Donald) Trump, that’s like $3.5 million in marketing. If you break down the analytics of it, in itself, just to promote their show.
“I’ve put my life on the line for this company. Went to Brazil, said outlandish things where people literally wanted to kill me and I had gangs in favelas coming after me and they still want to come at me with this basic challenger, entry fee type money? I’m standing up for what’s right.”
Covington won the interim UFC welterweight title when he defeated former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 on June 9, 2018. Though he claims to still be a UFC champion, he was stripped of that designation when he declined to fight then-champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 228 in September of 2018, instead opting to have nasal surgery.
Covington returned to the Octagon in the UFC on ESPN 5 main event on Aug. 3, 2019, where he defeated Robbie Lawler, winning a lopsided unanimous decision. Usman, meanwhile, was recovering from a double-hernia surgery that followed his title win over Woodley in March.
That seemed to set up the title fight for the UFC 244 main event at Madison Square Garden, but as mentioned, negotiations stalled.
Colby Covington claims Kamaru Usman turned down multiple UFC 244 opponents
“My side of the story is, I’m ready to fight, I was ready to fight, but the UFC came to be with the basic challenger’s offer,” Covington told ESPN. “I’m a champion. There was no negotiation. They came and ran at me and said, ‘Here, take this, or leave it and we’ll pass it on to the next person. That’s not fair negotiating and that’s not right. So I’m not going to take the first offer that you offer me.”
“Usman didn’t want to fight anybody. He didn’t want to fight me. He didn’t want to fight my ex-best friend Jorge. He didn’t want to fight Leon Scott (Leon Edwards). The problem is Usman. The problem has nothing to do with me.”
Though Covington said the problem had nothing to do with him, that he was ready and willing to fight Usman, he continued to rail on the deal offered, saying it wasn't fair, particularly after the UFC appears to be doing well financially. He even claimed that the UFC was offering him less money to fight Usman than he made for the non-title fight with Lawler in August.
“I have a world title and they still want to treat me like crap,” Covington continued with ESPN. “They still want to not give me any room to negotiate and work. It’s not fair. The company is rolling in money. Thirty-percent growth last month. We all know the ESPN deal. They’re making so much money. They need to make this right.”
Is Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington dead in the water?
Covington is still hopeful that a deal can be done that puts him in the Octagon with Usman before the end of 2019.
“I hope so. I don’t know. I feel like we were very close and negotiations were very close to being signed but they didn’t want to meet in the middle. They didn’t want to be fair and bring a reasonable price to me,” Covington told MMA Fighting.
“I’m not asking for anything unfair. I’m just asking for something reasonable for the work I put in. I’m not asking for anything unreasonable. I’m just asking for what I’ve earned and what I deserve.”
UFC on ESPN 5: Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler fight recap and highlights
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