Several UFC fighters are standing up to Colby Covington. Dana White is standing to the side.
Even after Covington followed his recent win over Tyron Woodley by culturally disparaging Nigerian-born UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, White said his fellow Trump supporter was free to continue saying whatever he pleased.
“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here,” the UFC president said. “We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.”
White said he would “of course” denounce a racist comment, but took no issue with what Covington said.
After receiving a post-match call from Trump, Covington shouted to Usman:
“Who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?”
Usman, 33, has lived in the United States for 25 years, having moved from Benin City, which holds a population of nearly 1.5 million people.
Covington, who also called Woodley a “terrorist” for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, was quickly denounced by other fighters.
“Let’s be real, first and foremost. It wasn’t ‘unfortunate.’ It was flat-out racist. It was racist. It was disgusting,” bantamweight Sijara Eubanks said. “It was quite frankly disappointing, but at the same time, the one thing I appreciate is the UFC lets whoever say whatever. They have never muzzled us as fighters. If you want to talk, if you don’t want to talk, if you want to be political, if you don’t want to be political, I have to appreciate the company lets us say what we want.
“But to be fair, I think guys that talk like Mike Perry [a UFC fighter captured on video using the N-word] and Colby Covington, I think a lot of the things they say are racist and disgusting and should be reported as such, instead of ‘unfortunate’ or ‘controversial.’ It’s racist.”
Such comments aren’t new from Covington. In 2017, the California-born fighter called Brazilians “filthy animals,” prior to a bout in the country.
Welterweight Leon Edwards doesn’t understand how Covington’s latest remarks have triggered no response, either.
“That’s what got me,” Edwards told MMA Fighting. “The UFC has said nothing about it. ESPN has said nothing about it. Letting it flow like it’s a normal thing to f—ing say and do and it’s not. Your tribe and smoke signals and blah, blah, blah, and he’s calling Woodley a terrorist because of Black Lives Matter. All these statements he’s making is racist. There’s no other way to go around it.
“If it was the other way around, if a Black athlete was saying to a white athlete in that regards, people would report it straight away. I find it very weird that no one is stepping up and no one is saying anything. UFC isn’t saying anything about it. ESPN is allowing it to carry on.”