Colby Covington says Dana White and the UFC "lied to me" in promising a shot at the welterweight belt. ESPN reported the UFC plans to have champion Tyron Woodley defend his title against Kamaru Usman on March 2 in Las Vegas. Covington is the current interim champion, which typically means he is in line for the next shot. Not this time.
"They made promises that I was going to fight Tyron Woodley in November at Madison Square Garden," Covington said on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "They made promises I was going to fight him January in California. Now all of a sudden I'm getting passed up for a guy behind me that has beaten my sloppy seconds?"
"It makes no sense to me. They are s----ing on me; they are s----ing on their fans. They are dulling their product."
Covington said he reached out to White to sit down and go over the current situation. He said his message was not returned.
The 30-year-old claimed the UFC's interim welterweight belt after defeating Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision at UFC 225 in June. He has won 14 of his 15 professional fights, his only blemish occurring in 2015 in a submission loss to Warley Alves.
Usman (14-1) has won 13 fights in a row. He most recently defeated dos Anjos on Nov. 30 by unanimous decision. Woodley has not lost since 2014. He claimed the belt by beating Robbie Lawler by first-round KO in 2016 and has yet to relinquish it.
Covington and Woodley have a long and contentious history together. Both trained together earlier in their careers at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, and have been very outspoken in their dislike for each other.
"This is the blockbuster main event at welterweight," Covington said. "This has been brewing for such a long time, since I first trained at ATT and was beating his a--. He knows that deep down. He can lie to the media, he can lie to the people. He can't lie to himself or his coaches."
Covington has embraced the role of MMA villain in recent years.
In this past year alone, Covington called Brazilian fans "filthy animals" after a fight at UFC Sao Paulo. He criticized female fighters for their physical appearance. He had a boomerang thrown at his head in Australia by fellow fighter Fabricio Werdum. He purposely spoiled movie endings on social media. He constantly calls out fans for being "Cheetos-eating dorks in their mom's basement."
But even those fans who love to criticize him have come to his defense in recent days.
"People can relate to my situation. I've worked hard for something, I earned something. I put in the time," Covington said. "I've been grinding since I was 7 years old. This is a lifetime of work. For someone to take away something from me that I earned? It's not fair."
Covington told Helwani he will not fight again unless it is for a championship. And if the UFC threatens to cut him? He's OK with that.
"I don't need the UFC, the UFC needs me," Covington said. "Unless they are calling me for a title shot, I have nothing to say to them. If they want to release me, release me. I'm going to wait to get what I deserved. That's a title fight.
"There's other big fights out there. The options are aplenty for me. I have decisions and choices to make. I'll go fight anywhere."
Asked by Helwani for a final message to the promotion, Covington closed with this.
"F--- you, UFC."