In most sports, there are certain players that are loved by the whole world, because, in the eyes of the fans, they are the ‘good guy’. Whether it is Anthony Joshua in the world of boxing, Daniel Ricciardo in F1 or possibly Joe Root in Cricket, they are appreciated even by rival fans, as they are seen to uphold a certain standard of likeability. Considering how obsessed many sports stars are with winning, and how due to their large wages they can seem almost like different breeds to us regular humans, it is good to have these sorts of athletes who people can relate to.
Of course, on the flip side, there are many sportspeople who are much harder to love by the neutral fan, because of their actions either on or off the field. Luis Suarez is a very talented soccer player, but his behaviour has seen him bite opponents on several occasions. In boxing, Tyson Fury is certainly a great fighter, but the comments he has made out of the ring have certainly upset a lot of people. Then in Cricket, Virat Kohli is certainly one of the most naturally gifted players of his generation but does also have a habit of winding up the other teams during test matches.
In the world of MMA, there are a number of these characters. Connor McGregor, arguably the most famous UFC fighter over the last ten years, certainly splits opinions amongst the fans. There is no arguing what he’s achieved in the sport, but he is considered by many to be quite a nasty person.
Another MMA fighter who might fall into that category is Colby Covington For a man who is the current world #1 in the welterweight rankings and has only lost twice in his career, you’d expect him to be much more popular. He certainly is a favourite with online sports bettors, as when looking for free betting picks they will often look for his odds in UFC fights, as he tends to win. However, we will look into a number of potential reasons why many fans really have a passionate disliking for the man from Clovis, California.
Happy to be the bad guy
Covington has declared himself as the ‘super villain’ of the UFC, and regularly says things in or out of the ring to upset his rivals, fellow competitors or crowds watching on. In 2017, he fought Demian Mania in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After the fight, he called the country a dump and referred to the crowd as filthy animals. Safe to say he won’t be welcomed back there any time soon.
In the leadup to UFC 245, where he was to fight Kamaru Usman, Covington made the horrible claim that Usman’s coach Glenn Robinson had died from a heart attack from “all those years you were ducking”, and that Robinson would be “watching from hell”. The comments were unnecessarily cruel but did not seem to phase Usman, who went on to defeat Covington in the closing moments of the fifth round of their fight.
Staunch Republican and Trump fan
It would be an understatement to say that Donald Trump was one of the least popular presidents of the United States in the last fifty years. It got to the point where even members of the Republican party wanted him gone, as they felt he was embarrassing the public opinion of the party.
Not everyone thought that way. Covington can only be described as an outspoken supporter of Trump, having visited the White House following his victory at the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship. Watching that night were Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, who Covington pointed out after the victory. In his speech at the end of the fight, Covington even went as far as to say “I was truly inspired when the first family came into the building and came to see me backstage. Let’s give it up for the Trumps. They’re keeping America great.” Given how much the average American was suffering at that time, praising the president in such a way was hardly going to win Covington any more fans.
Can’t deny his record
Despite all the negativity that surrounds Covington, it can’t be denied that he has won a lot of fans due to his performances in the octagon, as opposed to his comments outside of it. He has an impressive overall record, winning 16 of his 18 bouts, 4 by submission, 4 by knockout, and 8 by decision. His most recent victory came against Tyron Woodley, where he won on a technical knockout after his opponent suffered a rib injury.
There is a lot of talk about the rematch with Usman coming up on the 6th of November in UFC 268. Will Covington talk the talk, and walk the walk this time? Or will his cruel comments fail to have the desired effect once again? Thankfully, we don’t have long to wait until we find out.