Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight contender Colby Covington finished off Tyron Woodley, then took the fight to Joe Biden and LeBron James.
After scoring a fifth-round TKO in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card at the MMA promotion’s Apex complex in Las Vegas, the sport’s most based welterweight opened fire on the Democratic presidential candidate and the NBA’s biggest superstar before fielding a congratulatory call from US president Donald Trump.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the silent majority is ready to make some noise,” Covington said while draped in an American flag. “If you thought that was a beating, wait until November 3rd when Donald Trump gets his hands on Sleepy Joe. That’s going to be a landslide.”
Jed I. Goodman
Colby Covington post fight interview. pic.twitter.com/foEUWHWPrY
The California native and outspoken Trump supporter then dedicated his victory over Woodley to the “all the first responders, all the military out there” before turning on James, the LA Lakers star who has a long history of social involvement and advocacy for progressive causes.
“This world would not be safe without you guys,” Covington said. “You keep us safe, not these woke athletes, man. I’m sick of these woke athletes, and these spineless cowards like LeBron James.”
Later as Covington fielded questions beneath a ‘Keep America Great’ hat at the post-fight press conference, he was interrupted by what was framed as a spontaneous phone call from Trump, who chatted with the fighter for two minutes on speaker phone in an inspired stroke of campaigning following his Saturday night rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“I’m proud of you man, I’m a big fan and I’m proud of you,” Trump told Covington. “You’re tough, you have the right spirits. So now go win the next one, and just keep it for a long time, right? Just keep that championship for a long time. But you are something … I appreciated the shout-out tonight, too. I’m your fan, you’re my fan. Two of a kind, two of a kind.”
Covington, who visited the White House in 2018, is ranked No 2 in the promotion’s welterweight rankings and does not currently hold a UFC championship. The fighter tweeted a photo of their meeting at the time with the caption, “Pleasure to finally meet you Mr. President. Thank you for always putting America first!”
Trump’s two adult sons, Don Jr and Eric, attended Covington’s win over Robbie Lawler last year in New Jersey, watching from cageside and snapping pics throughout the day with several well-wishers.
Unlike the many sports organizations that have distanced themselves from the White House, the UFC has largely aligned itself behind Trump at the lead of Dana White, the promotion’s longtime president.
White, who stumped for Trump at the Republican national convention in 2016 and once more last month, has remained fiercely loyal to Trump through the years and has said he would never badmouth the president, ”Ever, ever, ever.”
White has also made significant contributions to Trump over the past five years, most recently a $1m donation in November to America First Action, a pro-Trump Super Pac. Two weeks earlier, Trump appeared at a UFC card at Madison Square Garden as White’s guest, becoming the first sitting president ever to attend a mixed martial arts event.
The kinship between White and Trump can be traced to 2001, when the UFC was widely regarded as illegitimate thanks in large part to politicians like then-Arizona senator John McCain, who infamously branded it “human cockfighting”. But Trump allowed White’s beleaguered promotion to host a number of early events at his Taj Mahal resort in Atlantic City, lending a sense of mainstream credibility that helped put the company on a course to profitability.