In the month of March, the rivalry between former teammates turned bitter enemies, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, came to a conclusion in the ring but found itself heating up outside of it. The two welterweights headlined the UFC 272 card on Saturday, March 5, and many thought that what occurred in the cage would be the last of their beef.
The lead-up to the fight started back in 2017 as the two started to have major differences in their Florida-based gym of American Top Team. The two share conflicting stories as to why the animosity began, but both discredit the moral character of the other. The two were kicked out of the gym as tension flared up in a gym session, but Masvidal asked to come back whereas Covington found a new home in MMA Masters, another Florida-based gym. The rivalry between the two would likely not be as heated as it is if it were not for Covington’s persona that he puts up for media attention and overall publicity. The persona is brash and leads him to taunt other people in manners they may find offensive. From talking about Masvidal being a deadbeat father and owing alimony to calling Dustin Poirier’s wife unfaithful and calling his baby a prop, Covington does not pull punches when it comes to the trash talk. These antics have earned Covington some of the highest PPV numbers that the UFC has seen in recent years whether it’s from fans of Covington or from those tuning in to see him get beat. The trash talk continued during fight week with him ramping up the insults against Masvidal and Masvidal saying he was going to put Covington in “critical condition.” With the two coming off losses to the champion Kamaru Usman and having a five or six-year rivalry, the fight was expected to be explosive.
The fight was anything but explosive as it ended up being a wrestling clinic put on by Covington who managed to defeat Masvidal in one of the most dominant displays in recent memory. There was little excitement in the striking aside from Covington landing combinations at will and Masvidal dropping Covington to a knee for half a second with a flash hook. Covington had 16 minutes of control time in the 25-minute fight, landing 6/14 of his takedown attempts and ending with more significant strikes than Masvidal, 94 to 67, and landing 218 total strikes to Masvidal’s 90. The very one-sided display ended with Covington standing straight up after the bell and proceeding to insult Masvidal further by saying that he, Covington, was the true king of Miami and then proceeding to grab his own nuts while continuing the insults. Masvidal was barely able to stand on his own two feet after the fight, showing how badly Covington beat him down throughout the fight. Covington, in true Covington fashion, proceeded to call Dustin Poirier a “cuck” in his post-fight in-ring interview while Masvidal still seemed exhausted and on the brink of tears in his post-fight interview. There was still an air of tension lingering in the air, as the two did not say that their beef was settled in either interview.
Everything came to a boil outside of the ring just a week ago on March 24th as Covington was in a well-known Miami steakhouse, still celebrating his victory. Covington’s location was posted on social media, with seemingly innocent intent, by those he was with. Masvidal, wearing a facemask and hoodie ran up on Covington as he was exiting the restaurant and hit him three times in the face, chipping the tooth of Covington, but not much else. During the assault, Masvidal was heard saying “don’t talk about peoples’ kids.” Even bareknuckle and by surprise, Masvidal could not hurt Covington. Cops were quickly on the scene after Masvidal fled, and Masvidal was promptly arrested, facing felony assault charges. The tactic of running up on people and sucker punching them is not foreign to Masvidal as he has stated it was common practice when he was growing up in Dade County. But to see Masvidal do that now, when he is nearly 40 years old and a comfortable millionaire, shows he has not matured much since those teenage days. The incident sent the MMA community alight with people choosing sides. Yet, opinions aside, Masvidal had 25 minutes in a cage with a man to do whatever he wanted but was utterly dominated and had to resort to surprise attacks outside of legal competition to try and hurt Covington. Covington has taken two Ws in the whole affair while Masvidal faces a downward career path and felony assault charges which if they were to go through, would keep him from seeing his kids, thus proving Covington right when he says that Masvidal is a deadbeat father. As the only thing Masvidal has to look forward to is a court date, Covington has stated he is willing to fight this July, a rapid turnaround as he looks to earn a title shot and potentially a third fight with Kamaru Usman.