mma / Columns

Colby Covington: Cementing the Heel Turn

June 12, 2018 | Posted by Evan Zivin
Colby Covington

It really is interesting the way the UFC promotes its talent.

One of the topics of discussion in the lead up to last Saturday’s UFC 225, even moreso than some of the fights themselves, was the placement of those fights on the card, spurred on by the demotion of the Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes fight from the Payperview card to the TV prelims.

Dana White, in his typically pleasant way, decried anyone who considered the move as being a demotion (I hope neither man had Payperview points), as well as the criticism of having that fight, as well as the Joseph Benavidez vs. Sergio Pettis fight, fights that were relevant to their divisions and likely to produce title contenders, on the prelims when CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson, a fight between 0-1 “professionals” who have no business being in the UFC in 2018, kicked off the Payperview card.

The funniest part of that was at the post fight press conference, when Dana regretted having the Punk-Jackson fight on the Payperview because it was so pathetic to watch, as if anyone who has half a brain and doesn’t have $300 million in the bank or stake in a former pro wrestler who’s only here because of his name value couldn’t have seen that coming.

Dana attacked a fighter who won. Granted, that fighter beat a man who was guaranteed a lot of money to fight and who’s name was thrown around a lot to help promote the card but still, wouldn’t it make sense to promote a fighter who won and not bury them? Dana is a curious guy.

At least we got that two hour long Ronda Rousey Hall of Fame reel. I guess the first place she’ll be defending the WWE Raw Women’s Championship will be Dana’s office…

Only in this sport can the President of the premier organization verbally abuse one of his own athletes in front of the media and have nobody think much of it because everyone is resigned to the fact that it’s normal because he does it all the time.

I guess that means it also shouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the UFC’s TV personalities do the same thing, looking at the exchange Michael Bisping, in his role as UFC TV analyst, had with new Interim UFC Welterweight Champion Colby Covington on the post fight show.

I get that Mike isn’t the type of guy to not stick up for himself when someone is talking trash to him, as Colby did, but it’s really unprofessional to do that while sitting at a Fox Sports desk as a representative of the sport and the network, his job being to promote the sport and not to tear into it.

All I can say about Colby’s schtick is that anyone who thinks it isn’t working are lying to themselves.

That isn’t to say his schtick isn’t bad. It is. It’s real bad. The guy didn’t even bother going to the Chael Sonnen School of Fight Promotion. He just heard about the school, read a syllabus online, bought a used book of “Yo Mama” jokes, and felt that was enough to get him to the top.

C’mon, Colby. Where’s your “The Nogueira brothers thought a bus was a horse” anecdote? Where’s your “Anderson Silva got his black belt in a Happy Meal?” slam? Step up your game, son.

The interesting thing about that, though, is that he doesn’t really need to change anything because, despite what people say about his mouth, it has helped get him to the top. Or pretty close to it, anyway.

I mean, Chael had success in the UFC but there was a limit to that success. He was loud and brash with enough fighting ability to get himself to the big dance on multiple occasions but he was never able to walk away with the gold.

Even when he was minutes away from beating Anderson Silva (before everybody was doing it) Uncle Chael still couldn’t get it done. He had to parade a fake belt around after the fight pretending he was champion to maintain his character and the heat that he wanted to go with it, since it was that heat that made anybody pay attention to him in the first place.

For Colby, maintaining his heat will be a lot easier because he was able to do what Chael couldn’t and win the belt.

Well, a belt, anyway.

Interim champion obviously isn’t the same as being the undisputed champion, despite what “Chaos” himself may say, but it’s still a championship recognized by the UFC. He’ll be an asterisk in the annals of UFC Championship history but he’ll still be there.

And that right there is proof that his schtick has worked, since nobody would have expected he’d be in this position a year ago, beating sub Top 15 guys in relatively quiet fashion. Then he started talking and got a fight with Demian Maia in the Brazilian’s return fight after losing to Tyron Woodley. The result was Colby controlling Maia in a wrestling heavy fight, winning a unanimous decision, calling all Brazilians “filthy animals” and never looking back, lest Wanderlei Silva catches up to him.

We can talk all we want about how tired Colby’s trash talk is or how it’s failing to make him a household name. We can cite his supposedly small number of Twitter and Instagram followers until the cows come home and get attacked by Fabricio Werdum’s boomarang but the fact remains we’re still talking about him.

There’s been a lot written about Colby since he muscled himself into the spotlight, enough that it made sense for the UFC to not just give him a big fight against Rafael dos Anjos but to make it a title fight even though Tyron Woodley says he should be ready to fight by the end of the summer.

I can’t understand why UFC made the fight for an interim title (unless they were worried Punk’s name wasn’t enough to sell the show…) but doing it resulted in something pretty amazing, as Covington secured a unanimous decision win against dos Anjos by maintaining a high striking output for 25 minutes and by landing as many takedowns as he could against one of the better grapplers in the division.

UFC gave Colby the chance to become a champion and he took it. He’s proved he’s worthy of holding gold by beating a former UFC champion and a multi-time UFC title challenger before that. Now he just needs to defeat the current UFC Champion to cement his place as not just the baddest (speaking in more than one sense…) but as the best.

And the fight with Woodley is coming. There’s no one else Colby should fight next. He is the interim champion, after all. Right Michelle Waterson?

Plus, it’s a fight Tyron wants, which is amusing since he’s become a bit of a pariah for saying he’s deserving of big money fights and, without even doing anything, he may be getting one. It won’t be Nate Diaz big but still pretty big.

Or at least it will be big as long as Tyron keeps running his mouth and as long as Colby keeps running his mouth and as long as Dana White can show the UFC isn’t completely inept at fight promotion, especially when the fighters are doing all the heavy lifting. If that’s all good, then this could be building to the biggest fight of the year.

Not that it’s saying much, though. I mean, look at the number of Colby’s Twitter followers. Pathetic.

At the end of the day, I just hope he doesn’t go and spoil the ending to The Incredibles 2. I will rip someone’s throat out with my bare hands if anyone does that before I’ve gotten a chance to see it…

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

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Colby Colvington, Evan Zivin