Colby Covington stuck with his heel persona at the UFC Newark (UFC on ESPN 5) open workouts Wednesday, but in doing so, didn’t actually do much to promote his fight.
Newark, NJ — If you had missed the UFC logo on the backdrop, you might have thought the WWE was in town Wednesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. At least when former interim champ Colby Covington hit the stage, ever-so-briefly. What ensued was one of the more bizarre (and ultimately underwhelming) open workout showings in recent memory.
The highlights? Covington skipping the workout — though to be fair to ‘Chaos,’ opponent Robbie Lawler did as well — and leaving early, saying people bought tickets to see him, but he didn’t pay to see them, or something along those lines. He also added he didn’t like the “vibe” in the room, which was actually pretty light.
Before he left for a brief, and we do mean brief, media scrum, however, Covington found some “fans” in the audience to bring on stage. The trio accompanied him to the press scrum as well, with Cageside Press and other media outlets present. There, Covington continuing to work his Chael Sonnen/Pro Wrestling gimmick.
Serious question, what has Covington done to prepare for the early start time for UFC on ESPN 5? The main card gets underway at 3PM ET, after all, not a normal UFC start time.
Covington’s answer, with a nod to his companions, “just making sure I’m not staying extra late up in the bedroom. Usually I like to stay up late and work on my cardio late at night with all my ladies, but I’ve got to make sure I’m really toning it down and getting to bed at a good time so I can wake up at a good time.”
That was the tone for a lot of what followed. Asked by Cageside Press if Lawler’s seeming indifference to Covington’s antics changed anything for him, ‘Choaos said it didn’t. “That doesn’t change anything for me. Robbie is who he is. He puts on a front for the media. That’s not who he really is. He’s just showing up because he has to show up, and he doesn’t want to get fined. He’s not showing up like me really putting on a show, entertaining these fans.”
Questioned about how much of his persona is him, and how much is a calculated effort to entertain, with the ladies present as an example, Covington claimed that “I got lucky today that these beautiful women arrived. They stole the show man. These people didn’t come to see me, they came to see beautiful women. We all know sex sells.”
They just happened to be in the crowd, he said. “Total coincidence. Lucky me. Who would have thought, man.”
The problem with Covington’s gimmick, aside from playing up the political angle, which, to each their own, is that others have done it — better. Covington apparently took a crash course in pro wrestling promotion, but he’s still green at it. If Henry Cejudo hadn’t won the King of Cringe moniker along with two belts, it could very well have been awarded to Covington.
Beyond that, playing the arrogant heel character is one thing, but with no media day scheduled for UFC Newark, Covington’s brief appearance is all the push the card will really be getting, out side of ESPN’s own promotion, from one half of the headliner. So while brushing off the crowd might gain him a bit of heat with UFC fans, it’s unlikely to sell much in the way of extra tickets.
Points to one of Covington’s companions for at least getting out the most fighter-like quote of the scrum. Asked how Covington would win Saturday, one girl answered “Kick some ass. Like always.”
“Like always. That’s all we do baby is win,” Covington chimed in. “That’s why they call us the Great American Winning Machine.”
Should Covington defeat Robbie Lawler on Saturday, regardless of gimmick, he’ll have proven — once again — that he’s a worthy title contender. And despite his efforts to entertain, he is a great athlete, though that seems to get lost amidst the chaos. Come Saturday, we’ll find out if he does kick ass like always.