New York, NY — Kamaru Usman might not like Colby Covington as a person, but he appears to respect the man’s hustle when it comes to selling their upcoming rematch.
As a person though? “He’s a rotten piece of sh*t, and I can’t believe his father let him put this persona on,” Usman exclaimed during the UFC 268 pre-fight press conference on Thursday.
The pair face off for the second time at UFC 268, well over a year after their first meeting in December 2019, which saw Usman win via fifth-round TKO. Since then, Usman has defended his welterweight title three times. Covington has fought just once.
Their rematch, however, tops one of the deepest UFC cards of the year, and the bickering between them was the focus Thursday. Yet no matter how personal Covington tried to get, Usman insisted that he appreciated it.
“I love it. I’ve said it. I appreciate everything that he does, everything that he comes with,” Usman (19-1) stated. “I love it, because it’s another challenge for me to get over it. At this point in life, at this point of my career, I look forward to those challenges. On Saturday night, I’ll do what I do best, and that’s smash another challenge.”
Queried as to whether Covington was his most difficult match-up, Usman responded saying “I wouldn’t say the most difficult match-up. I would say he’s very, very talented. I give him props. He’s very, very talented, he works hard, and he comes to fight each and every time. But like I’ve said before, in the era that he existed, he has to live with the fact that somebody was there that was better.”
Depending on your gauge of “difficulty,” the numbers seem to agree. Fighters like Jorge Masvidal and Tyron Woodley took Usman the distance, even if it didn’t work out so well for Masvidal in the rematch. Covington? He fell just short, victim of a broken jaw, among other injuries, though he denies it.
Covington, for his part, was in full promotional mode Thursday, outside of a brief but lighthearted embrace with new teammate Weili Zhang. For the most part, Covington performed his usual routine. Usman, he said, is a cheater. “The CEO of EPO.” Asked about releasing the x-rays of his allegedly broken jaw from the first fight, he directed attention to the custom suit he was sporting. There were potshots at Usman’s father, who was previously incarcerated.
His most honest line of the night might have been this. “I don’t live in the past,” proclaimed Covington. “Saturday night’s the future, and I’m destroying Marty Fake Newsman.”
He’s certainly going to give it a try.