'Should I beat that little Irish leprechaun that couldn't knock an old guy off a stool?'
Colby Covington is a lot like Conor McGregor in one significant way. Both men are more fondly regarded when they are active fighters.
Next January will see Conor McGregor return to The Octagon for the first time in 15 months. Colby Covington, meanwhile, has only fought once in the UFC since June 2018.
The trash-talking and bombast displayed by both men does help garner attention and sell fights, but it works much better when they are active.
This weekend, at UFC 245, Covington takes on welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in Las Vegas and he can add the undisputed belt to the interim one he claimed by defeating Rafael Dos Anjos back in 2018. That belt was later stripped after Covington recovered from an injury but it did not stop him bringing it to The White House when he was invited along by US President Donald Trump.
Ahead of his title face-off with Usman, Covington arrived at a sit-down event in Vegas that was hosted by Megan Olivi. Wearing an orange suit, white shirt and feigning disinterest by leafing through a Donald Trump Jr. book called 'Triggered', Covington made it tough for Olivi.
After shrugging off the first couple of questions directed at him, he accused Usman of using performance enhancing drugs, dismissed the legacy of Georges St-Pierre and even aimed a few barbs at featherweight title challenger Alexander Volkanovski.
The most animated Covington got was when asked who his next opponent should be after the Usman fight. He declared:
"As the people's champion, I'd like to ask the people who they'd like me to fight next. Should it be journeyman Jorge Masvidal? Should it be GSP? Should it be kebab [Khabib Nurmagoedov]?"
He continued, "Should I beat that little Irish leprechaun that couldn't knock a drunk... an old guy off a stool in a bar? Who should it be?"
When the fans in attendance shouted for Masvidal, Covington smiled before saying, "Look like it'll be Street Judas. Journeyman Jorge."
When fans requested Masvidal as his next opponent, @ColbyCovMMA agreed to face “Street Judas” #UFC245 (via @marc_raimondi) pic.twitter.com/BkjmUiUFW9
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 12, 2019
Funnily enough, Covington has openly admitted to, in WWE parlance, turning heel to get more attention. He went from a respectful opponent and a well regarded fighter to someone that ran other fighters down and staged photo opportunities [such as descending on UFC president Dan White in a casino to demand a title shot] to get attention.
"I knew that I needed to make a change," he told BT Sport, "I was heading onto my third UFC contract and they were never upping the contract... I needed to make a change, get the fans involved and make it a circus."
Masvidal and former 170lbs champion Tyron Woodley would both be keen to have a crack at the 31-year-old if he defeated Usman this weekend. McGregor is fighting Donald Cerrone at welterweight, next month, so could toss his name in the ring if he returns with a victory.
Covington vs. McGregor would make for one hell of a fight, but we would have to endure some amount of smack talk if that one ever got signed off.