Spread out behind UFC 272’s main event stars at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference was a line of uniformed police officers, just in case either Colby Covington or Jorge Masvidal decided to get out of hand.
Despite plenty of verbal fireworks, insults lobbed back and forth, they did not. The pair did get to their feet early on, but the UFC’s own security was adequate enough to hold them back. The real fight, as expected, will come Saturday night.
Still, UFC President Dana White made clear towards the end of the affair that the hostility between the two was very real. And could very well go off at any time.
“If anybody doesn’t think that one of these two might do something today, you’re out of your f*cking mind,” White stated. “That’s why we have everybody up here.”
“This is real,” White added.
How real? Early on Thursday, Masvidal was asked if he’d come across Covington so far during fight week. “The UFC keeps this little b*tch well hidden from me,” replied “Gamebred” before adding continued taunts of “little b*tch.”
On whether the rivalry would be done after Saturday, Covington made clear that it would not be.
“This dude’s not allowed in my city, Miami, ever again. If I see him, he’s getting sparked on sight, dropped on his head,” Covington exclaimed. “The only difference is, on Saturday night, he’s going to have the UFC to pay his f*cking medical bills.”
The UFC hasn’t had a grudge match reach this temperature for a while now. Since Jones-Cormier, perhaps. The bickering between two star athletes is certainly reminiscent of that feud, or, going back a little further, Ortiz-Shamrock, or perhaps Ortiz-Liddell. The difference here is, neither man is holding gold. How much that matters to viewers at home remains to be seen, but the tension was still in the air by the time White faced his main event players off.
That usually bodes well in terms of fan interest.