LAS VEGAS – The UFC 245 welterweight title fight between champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Colby Covington has taken on a narrative that is larger than two fighters competing for the 170kg top. With Covington’s divide, Donald Trump’s character, which contrasts with Usman’s, added a political spin to the fight.
It is a tale that Usman, while not fond of Covington’s tactics, welcomes his fight Saturday night.
“I am really happy to have done this because there are so many things at this time that we are living in this need to be at the forefront,” said Usman, who is a child of Nigerian immigrants. Although admittedly “not a political person”, Usman understands that the struggle is greater than he feels about Covington and is a representation of the conflicting political ideologies that drive him inside the Octagon.
Unfortunately, the air was removed from the campaign balloon when a recent ESPN article revealed that Covington only created the character out of necessity to remain on the UFC roster. Although it has paid dividends to Covington as it has become an attraction, the fact that Covington only plays a role has disappointed Usman.
“It’s a studio gangster,” Usman told Sporting News. “I can’t believe he accepted it.”
Usman reflects on a time he interacted with Covington at an airport not long ago. He said that Covington is a long way from the opponent in the UFC right now. Instead, he was friendly and hospitable.
“It was so nice it made me feel crazy,” Usman said with a laugh. “But then three weeks later he started running his mouth online again, when I knew he was a con, just not really interested in him and can’t wait to humiliate him.”
The build-up to the December 14 disagreement has sparked interest beyond the hard-core MMA fans due to political tensions in the United States manifesting in an eight-fold cage. And while Usman and Covington are skilled wrestlers who have performed their craft well during their respective UFC tenures, there is nothing more Usman wants than a MAGA hit that wore his opponent out in the cold.
“I will give respect where respect is due, it can fight and I am not averse,” Usman said. “But once you get into this cage with this African lion, things change. The key to this fight is that I’m able to adapt to anything, if it comes down to the impressive, it doesn’t want that.”
Ultimately, Usman believes that Covington is now too deep with the character he created and is looking for a way out so that he will not lose his fans if he comes close to the champion at UFC 245.
“He does not absolutely believe in his own trick, so he went out and told everyone that this is not the real thing,” Usman said. “He’s looking for an exit so he can say, ‘Hey, don’t hate me when I get killed on Saturday because I was just doing it. “If you are for this life, you must stay for this life.
When all is said and done, Usman is more than willing to shake his opponent’s hand with respect as he sees through Covington’s trick. But he is not sure his opponent will do the same if he manages to get rid of what Usman says is “unthinkable”.
“If he loses, of course, he should shake my hand because he will be humble,” Usman said. “When he finally wakes up, he has to do it, but if he wins, what I doubt will not be because it’s a path to keep up with the trick but it’s my job to humiliate him and finish that trick.”
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