UFC’s Saturday Fight Night was more than just two rivals battling in the octagon. It was full of political innuendos and unhidden presidential support by opposing fighters. Colby Covington, a UFC fighter famous for his extreme support for Donald Trump, took on Tyron Woodley, a huge supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The fight ended in the second minute of the fifth round with Covington defeating Woodley by TKO. Covington took down Woodley against the cage, and while Woodley attempted to fight back, he loudly screamed in pain. The scream led to many worried about a serious injury. Tyron Woodley confirmed to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Sunday that he did suffer a broken rib.
Following the TKO, Covington shouted, “I want my belt back! Where’s my f—ing belt?!”
The UFC Fighters’ Rivalry
Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley have a long history of rivalry. ESPN reports the two both represented American Top Team at one point, with Covington even flying Woodley to his hometown in 2014. Though it’s reported the two had a falling out during the trip.
The enemy-status continued into 2017 when Woodley was UFC welterweight champion. Covington began trash-talking and targeting insults towards the champion, in hopes to earn a title fight. They attempted to organize a fight at least three times, but the two haven’t been able to fully face off until Saturday.
Many see the two’s polar opposition in political beliefs one angle for the intense rivalry. Colby Covington is known for wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ or ‘Keep American Great’ red hat during his press conferences. His relationship with the Trump family is clear via his social media channels. In his Instagram bio, he boasts he is the “1st #UFC Champion invited to The @WhiteHouse“
Tyron Woodley, on the other hand, is an adamant Black Lives Matter supporter. On Saturday’s fight, he wore a “Legalize Being Black” t-shirt to his weigh in and his shorts read “Black Lives Matter.”
Both fighters focused on their political beliefs in the post-fight presser. Covington, says to the media while wearing an American flag draped on his shoulder, “The silent majority is ready to make some noise. If you thought that was a beating, wait until November 3rd when Donald Trump gets his hands on Sleepy Joe.” The fighter, who calls himself “The People’s Champ”, adds “That’s going to be a landslide.”
Conversely, Tyron Woodley answers every question prompted post-fight with “Black Lives Matter.“
Response To The Rivalry and Covington’s Win
As with anything politically-charged, social media users took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the situation.
Many users voiced frustration with the fact that no one has told Colby Covington to “stick to sports,” as many have said to other politically-vocal athletes like LeBron James and Bubba Wallace. One user has garnered over ten thousand likes after calling those who attack liberal athletes but encourage conservative athletes. “hypocrites.”
Similarly, UFC’s Jamahal Hill tweets the hashtag #BLM while rhetorically asking why people don’t ask Covington to keep politics out of sports.
Another says, “People boycotting NFL and NBA because it’s “too political” but praise Colby Covington’s antics, make it make sense,” speaking on the same seemingly hypocritical actions other users mentioned. Though some give Covington their support. One says, “Amen Brother….finally an athlete with love for his country…” and another tweets, “#colbycovington destroyed woke athletes hahahahaha YEAH THATS GREAT!!!”
Others show disappointment in Woodley’s performance, adding that perhaps, he should quit.
Another mentions Woodley’s rib injury, saying the fighter’s heart “lost him that fight.’