Masvidal, a two-time 170-pound title challenger, will have the chance to silence Covington when he faces his former teammate at UFC 272 in March. In a rare non-title headliner, the pair of friends-turned-bitter foes will settle their score inside the Octagon at the third pay-per-view of 2022.
Both men are coming off championship losses to reigning titleholder Kamaru Usman. “Gamebred” suffered a unanimous decision loss to “The Nigerian Nightmare” in 2020, and then was brutally knocked out in their rematch at UFC 261 last April.
“Chaos,” meanwhile, first tasted defeat to Usman in 2019 at UFC 245. After being finished in the final round of what was a tight and competitive affair, Covington earned a rematch with a victory over Tyron Woodley the next year.
But despite taking the champ to the scorecards at UFC 268 last November, the controversial contender was unable to dethrone the unbeaten welterweight king.
Masvidal: Covington Inspires Future Generations To Talk Trash
In both of his challenges for gold, Covington’s trash-talking ways were on full display and included attacks on Usman’s heritage and father. For fighters, fans, and pundits, his words and insults were nothing new.
Ever since his “heel turn” in Brazil following his 2017 victory over Demian Maia, which saw Covington brand the South American nation a “dump,” the former interim titleholder hasn’t shied away from firing shots at all corners of the sport and all areas of his opponents; be it style, credentials, or even wives, as he’s done with Masvidal in the past.
During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Masvidal likened Covington’s decision to pursue a controversial, trash-talking persona to that of former two-division title challenger Chael Sonnen. “Gamebred” believes that, like Sonnen, Covington has had to make up for his wrestling-heavy fighting style by resorting to insults and trash talk in order to attract attention.
While he believes Sonnen, who recently described the UFC 272 main event as a potentially career-ending clash for Masvidal, influenced Covington’s mindset, the Miami native sees the cycle continuing with the #1-ranked welterweight contender setting an unhealthy example for future generations.
“It’s kind of like the Chael Sonnen thing,” Masvidal said. “Chael had to be so sh*t-talking because he didn’t have an exciting style for a long time; he was just wrestling guys to death. So he had to do that extra talking and get himself over like that. That influenced guys like Colby — that’s all he does.
“[Covington] has to talk about people’s wives. Like, how f*cking low of a society have we gotten, that’s even acceptable? You’re talking about people’s wives for no reason? Talking about Amanda Nunes’ team? In doing that, he inspires the future generations. So some 12-year-old may be looking at him, thinking, ‘Oh, this is the way to go, to insult a whole nation to get yourself over,’ because you weren’t selling pay-per-views, because you can’t fight, so you have to insult a whole country now.”
While he went on to insist he has no issue with jokes and general trash talk, which he certainly engaged in with Usman prior to UFC 261, Masvidal suggested that when it reaches the level of disrespect Covington often shows, it becomes unnecessary and something he “won’t stand for.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to me. We’re already going to fight as men. We’re going to give it all we have to each other. We don’t have to talk about things like children, women, religion, people’s countries,” added Masvidal. “To make jokes, I think it’s cool to get under somebody’s skin. But to go to that level of disrespect, it’s not — and what’s even worse is that it might inspire future generations to do it. And that I won’t stand for. We’ve got to crush it.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
Facing Covington won’t be the first time Masvidal has come against a trash-talking wrestler. In 2019, a year that saw “Gamebred” rise from a mid-tier name to an MMA superstar, Masvidal faced former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.
The now-retired Askren’s attempts to agitate and wind up Masvidal went on right into the Octagon, just seconds before the fight began. But just moments after his final remarks, “Funky” was put to sleep with a memorable flying knee.
Masvidal will hope to “crush” former friend and teammate Covington in a similar fashion on March 5.
Do you agree with Jorge Masvidal? Is the trash talk that the likes of Colby Covington and Chael Sonnen engage in unnecessary?