In recent weeks UFC welterweight contender Colby Covington and other members of American Top Team have been involved in an angle for TNA Wrestling alongside heavyweight teammate Bobby Lashley, who splits his time between MMA and the faux combat of pro wrestling.
Covington and TNA seem like a good fit, as in recent times the fighter has become increasingly vocal and his attempts to grab attention in the oft theatrical world of MMA have been somewhat pro wrestling-esque.
On Monday, Covington was a guest of Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and he was really embracing the stereotypical wrestling heel role, firing shots in all directions and comically disparaging Sao Paulo – the venue for his upcoming fight and the hometown of his opponent Demian Maia.
“I know that he only wanted to sign on the dotted line to fight me if it was in his backyard, where he could have the judges and the crowd on his side. But it’s okay, I’m willing to come to this dump and fight him. It doesn’t matter. Title shots, champagne and caviar on U.S soil after this, Helwani,” said Covington.
“Oh dude, it’s a dump. The A.C isn’t working here. I’m sweating my nuts off out here in the Amazon. But that’s okay, they’ll be extra sweaty for Demian Maia when I drop them on his face on Saturday night.”
Amidst his all-out assault on humanity, Covington also took aim at SBG Ireland, one of his favourite targets in recent times.
Over the weekend, Covington had a pop at the John Kavanagh led fight team on Twitter, asking when was the last time an SBG fighter won a bout.
His timing was a little off however, as SBG light-heavyweight Chris Fields had just picked up a win at KSW 40 in Dublin, and the Irish gym’s Twitter account fired back.
Covington’s response was dripping with sarcasm.
Despite being informed of Field’s exploits in Ireland’s capital, Covington continued to question SBG’s success rate during his interview with Helwani.
“I just think that they claim to be bigger than they are,” said the man who sits at number seven in the UFC’s official welterweight rankings. They are claiming to be the best gym in the world and everybody knows American Top Team is the best gym in the world. Let’s just make that clear.”
“They’re not winning fights. They haven’t won a fight in years. I can’t even remember the last time they won a fight. I mean, I think it was Conor [McGregor] about two years ago. But besides that, they’re not winning fights and they’re claiming to be the best gym in the world. If you’re going to claim these unlawful lies, then I’m going to call you out on it.”
Of course, Covington’s claim is hyperbolic, as was much of what he said on The MMA Hour. SBG fighters have enjoyed plenty of success throughout the globe since McGregor’s UFC lightweight title winning effort at Madison Square Garden last November.
Covington, however, is perhaps referring to SBG’s run of bad luck and poor form in the UFC this year. While fellow welterweight Gunnar Nelson started 2017 with an ultra-impressive win over Alan Jouban, he suffered a controversial setback against Covington’s heavy-handed, curious-fingered Argentine teammate Santiago Ponzinibbio in July. Artem Lobov has gone 0-2 in 2017, while SBG fighters Makwan Amirkhani and Charlie Ward have also incurred defeats.
Covington himself is on a fine run of form at present. ‘Chaos’ has won four straight since a defeat to Warlley Alves in December 2015, but on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo he faces by far the biggest test of his career. Maia may be coming off of a defeat but it was at the hands of reigning welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and the Brazilian had won seven consecutive fights prior to that setback.