Colby Covington was all ready to take on Kamaru Usman at UFC 244 until the offer came in. Covington — who had verbally agreed to take the match — ultimately decided to decline thanks to President Donald Trump.
No, really. That happened. Covington told MMA Fighting he was upset with the rate UFC offered, and was inspired to ask for money due to his close relationship with Trump.
“What happened exactly was the UFC came to me and offered me a basic challenger’s rate,” Covington explained when speaking to MMA Fighting on Monday. “I said no, I’m not challenging. I’m champion. I’ve never lost, I just defended my title. I brought in the Trumps. I got a tweet from [Donald] Trump, that’s like $3.5 million in marketing. If you break down the analytics of it, in itself, just to promote their show.
In August, Trump tweeted out his support of Covington, telling the fighter to “fight hard tonight.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2019
Covington took issue with UFC’s offer, because he didn’t think the UFC was open to negotiations. He claimed the company sent him an offer and implied he could take it or leave it. Because of that, Covington said he was “standing up for what’s right.”
The 31-year-old Covington described UFC’s methods as “hostage negotiations,” and again credited Trump for teaching Covington how to read the situation.
“They came with those hostage negotiations. They come and say ‘take this offer or we’ll just move onto the next person’. That’s not how negotiating works. I read ‘Art of the Deal’ from Donald Trump. I know how to work a deal and how deals work. They’re not going to take advantage of me and try to put me in a hostage position where they don’t give me any say or any room to negotiate. That’s not fair and it’s not right.”
Covington’s support of Trump is no big secret. Covington’s Twitter page is littered with references to the Trump family. Covington’s pinned tweet features a picture of the fighter next to Trump in the White House.
Covington was stripped of the interim welterweight title last September due to an injury. He was hoping to win the undisputed title from Usman before negotiations hit a snag.
It’s unclear what will happen next. According to MMA Fighting, talks between Covington and Usman have halted for now.
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