ABU DHABI – UFC president Dana White is standing firm in his stance that he’s not here to censor his fighters, no matter how controversial or outlandish their comments may be.
Colby Covington has again found himself under the microscope of the MMA world in recent days for his comments in the aftermath of his main event win over Tyron Woodley at UFC on ESPN+ 36 this past weekend. Covington had a heated exchange with current UFC champ Kamaru Usman on the ESPN post-fight show, and told the Nigerian-born fighter that he was getting “smoke signals” from his “tribe.”
Moreover, Covington (16-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) proceeded to the post-fight news conference, where he made some divisive statements about his rival Woodley and the Black Lives Matter movement. Since then, several Black UFC fighters, from Israel Adesanya to Leon Edwards to Sijara Eubanks and Hakeem Dawodu, have condemned “Chaos” for being racist. UFC apparel sponsor Reebok also released a statement distancing itself from Covington’s comments.
White did not appear to be keen on taking any action toward Covington for any of his post-fight behavior, though, and reiterated at Thursday’s UFC 253 pre-fight press conference that he’s not in favor of putting filters on his athletes.
“This is the 10th time you guys have asked me this,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “These guys all have their own causes, things – all their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said. I don’t know.”
According to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, White was not fully educated Covington’s specific comments in his interaction with Usman. That back-and-forth, in particular, has been highlighted by many as his most racist comments.
When asked directly if the UFC opposes racism, though, White said the promotion does.
“Yeah, of course,” White said. “Come on. I’m not going to play these games with you guys. Come on. If it’s racist? Yes. Of course (we don’t want that).”