Former UFC interim champ Colby Covington and ex-UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley have been on a collision course for years now. But while the two men once trained together at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, and would seem to be bitter rivals heading into their important main event battle on Saturday night in Las Vegas, the two stalwart 170-pound UFC stars remember things about their shared past a little differently.
“We genuinely hate each other,” Covington told Heavy. “All these other fights are just manufactured hate, you know, guys don’t really hate eath other. This fight? Me and Woodley actually do hate each other.”
— UFC (@ufc) September 3, 2020
But what Woodley described sounded different.
“I don’t really think about him on a daily basis, to be honest,” Woodley said.
In fact, Woodley said he was already super annoyed with the whole thing and ready to put his feud with Covington behind him for good. If anything, Woodley said he’s done talking about it and ready to fight.
“I’m agitated and annoyed that he wants to do so much talking about it just a few days before the fight,” Woodley said. “This fight has been announced for five or six weeks. Now, all of a sudden everybody wants to talk about it?”
One thing was clear after speaking with both fighters: there’s no love lost between these two former teammates.
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Is Covington vs. Woodley a Legit ‘Grudge Match’?
There might not be a phrase used more liberally in combat sports than “grudge match” but Covington vs. Woodley might actually be one that qualifies for the term.
In fact, most of the MMA media and at least one of the fight’s principal participants agree that the fight is exactly that.
“Oh, yeah, this is definitely a grudge match,” Covington said. “It’s definitely the most heated fight the UFC can offer right now.”
But Woodley isn’t buying into that logic.
“I mean, who is the grudge against? I used to pay him to come take these butt whippings on a daily basis,” Woodley said. “He wants it to be a grudge match because that’s what he needs for his career. He needs my name.”
Furthermore, Woodley said the reverse isn’t true. This isn’t the biggest or important fight of his career and it never could be after all the things he’s already achieved.
“A Colby Covington victory on my resume as someone I fought and beat does not solidify me,” Woodley said.
Covington Recalls How Beef With Woodley Began
But how did this whole thing start anyway? Covington said his beef with Woodley began the first day the two men met.
“To be honest, it was just always a business relationship,” Covington said. “I could tell the first day I met him that he acted like he was better than me. He acted like he was better than everybody in the building. He thought he should have the red carpet rolled out for him and that he was a superstar.”
Covington, a standout amateur wrestler, had been brought into Woodley’s camp to help the fighter prepare as part of a new program at American Top Team. But Covington said he didn’t feel respected by Woodley from the very beginning of their working relationship.
— UFC (@ufc) September 16, 2020
Covington recalls Woodley looking down at him.
“I just don’t agree with that,” Covington said. “I don’t care how big you get or what your title is, you still need to be a down to earth and genuine person, not act like you’re better than people. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just people. Titles or money or whatever don’t define us or make us better than one another.”
Woodley: ‘He Should Thank Me’
But for Woodley, his latest rival is someone he believes has simply put himself in this position by virtue of his own poor choices.
“His character is something most people don’t like. He burns bridges,” Woodley said.
When the two men first met, after all, it was Woodley who was already competing in the UFC and Covington who had yet to even turn professional.
“I paid him to come out and train with me,” Woodley said. “He wasn’t a friend, but as far as someone who helps provide for you at a time when you’re broke, and giving you exposure…He hadn’t even fought a professional fighter yet.”
'The Chosen One' has POWER 😤
💪 @TWooodley looks to return to prime form this Saturday.
— UFC (@ufc) September 16, 2020
Woodley believes Covington should be thanking him right now for all the ways it must have helped Covington as a young fighter to work with an established UFC star like Woodley.
“He should thank me for even being able to get to American Top Team,” Woodley said. “But that’s not in his nature. He’s always been selfish. He’s always been about himself. Unfortunately, he’s burned a lot of valuable bridges in his life.”
UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley
Covington and Woodley will settle the score on Saturday, September 19 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley, also known as UFC Vegas 11, will be streamed live in the United States via ESPN+.
The main card begins at 8 p.m. ET. The preliminary card starts at 5 p.m. ET.
Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley
Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann
Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos
Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane
Mirsad Bektic vs. Damon Jackson
Mara Romero Borella vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
David Dvorak vs. Jordan Espinosa
Sarah Alpar vs. Jessica-Rose Clark
Journey Newson vs. Randy Costa
Andre Ewell vs. Irwin Rivera
TJ Laramie vs. Darrick Minner
Tyson Nam vs. Jerome Rivera
Note: Card and bout order subject to change due to global pandemic.
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