It’s no secret title rivals Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington have plenty of bad blood between them, and that simmering heat threatened to boil over after a lively press conference ahead of their fight at UFC 268 in New York City.
Usman and Covington exchanged verbal jabs throughout the event at the Hulu Theater before the pair faced off in front of a raucous crowd, and Usman gave his first indication that Covington’s constant jibes had gotten under his skin.
“When I think about Madison Square Garden, I think about The Rolling Stones, Hulkamania, I think about Muhammad Ali, and now Colby Covington,” said the challenger.
“What do all those have in common? Legends, icons, Hall of Famers, world class.”
But despite extolling the virtues of New York and paying tribute to the first responders in the city, Covington directed much of his verbal assault on Usman toward the champion’s father, who was recently released from prison after serving his sentence for healthcare fraud.
After Covington accused Usman of faking injuries during their first fight at UFC 245 – which Usman won via fifth-round TKO after a thrilling encounter in Las Vegas – Usman fired back with a decisive riposte.
“If he’s saying that I was faking this and that, but I didn’t. I stayed in the fight and I broke your f*****g jaw,” he stated.
But Covington went low with his reply as he took aim at Usman’s father.
“The only thing your broke was your daddy out of prison,” Covington retorted.
“Where’s that jailbird at? We need the scam artist here just like his son.”
Covington repeated similar insults during an at-times heated press conference before the pair eventually faced off at the end of the event.
That @DanaWhite angle! 🔥
Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington squared off ahead of #UFC268 and it got heated!! pic.twitter.com/mluol7DHEG
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) November 5, 2021
Usman appeared to nod to UFC president Dana White that he was OK with bringing the faceoff closer together, but any concerns that Covington would explode were misplaced as it was Usman who reacted first.
The champion gave the challenger a firm double-handed shove as security swiftly moved in to ensure the situation didn’t escalate out of control.
The wild scenes on Thursday will be replaced by the serious business of making weight at the official weigh-ins before the final faceoffs at the ceremonial weigh-ins on Friday.