Per ESPN, a long-awaited welterweight clash between former title contenders Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal has been confirmed for UFC 272. Set to take place on March 5 at the T-Mobile Arena, the fight is expected to headline the packed pay-per-view card.
Fans are no stranger to the beef that surrounds Covington and Masvidal. Both top contenders in the welterweight division, each man has been vying for a shot at the other for quite some time with numerous call-outs to their name. However, there was once a time where these emotions were anything but sour.
Best friends for almost a decade, the pair had spent the majority of their careers at American Top Team, where they frequently trained and worked with one another. According to Covington, there was even a time they lived in the same household.
Covington vs. Masvidal Betting
In an interview with MMA News’ James Lynch, the two-time title challenger delved into the friendship turned spiteful.
“We were best friends, inseparable, [and] lived together for a couple of years. Just friends for almost a decade” exclaimed Covington.
“This is as real as it gets, like the UFC’s saying goes. And anybody that thinks we’re still friends, man, I don’t know what they’re thinking man.”
The origins behind the split of Covington and Masvidal’s friendship is one that’s puzzled fans from the beginning. For some, it ignited following Colby’s disparaging comments towards ‘Gamebred’, where he described the fighter as a journeyman not worthy of a championship opportunity. For others, Jorge’s tolerance surrounding his heel persona had drawn thin, prompting the seemingly sudden drift between the two.
Covington has spoken more openly about the inception of their feud, believing it began once he surpassed his friend in the rankings back in 2018.
“It was right when I came back from Brazil and I’d fought Demian Maia,” he said.
“He had just fought Maia I don’t know like eight months, six months ago. And he’d lost to Demian Maia and it was his big fight. Maia was on an eight-fight win streak or whatever, crushing everybody and it was a title eliminator fight. He got beat up in that fight by Demian Maia, and when I fought Maia two fights later, six months later, I go out there and just leave him in a pool of his own blood in his own city.”
“I remember coming back from that trip from Brazil and he was just so salty, just acting like a diva – acting like he’s famous [and] having a big ego. I’ve never had an ego, man. I came from blue-collar Oregon from a blue-collar family and I’m thankful for every little thing.”
“But as soon as I passed him up, started getting more success than him, he got jealous. He started saying comments in the media for no reason, like, ‘Oh, that crotch sniffer.’ Like, bro, what are you talking about? He’s like, ‘Oh, I’d fight my mother.’ It’s not about that. Like, dude, we could go about this so much better than this, man. He could’ve been a better person. But it just showed his true colors.”
Although interesting, it’s worth noting that this is solely from Covington’s point of view, meaning events may be exaggerated or falsified.
Since 2020, the only communication shared has been through heated tweets and fiery interviews. In March of that year, Amercian Top Team (ATT) owner Dan Lambert issued an edict, declaring there was to be no insulting ATT fighters publicly. Colby violated that rule, attacking Dustin Poirier and Joanna Jedrzejczyk along with Masvidal. While he remains on good terms with Lambert, he now trains out of MMA Masters.
“They gonna call you and hopefully the 4th time is a charm you fucking coward. Don’t pussy out now [Colby]” wrote Masvidal.
Scheduled for five-rounds, Colby and Jorge will wage war on March 5, finally settling the score succeeding years of back and forth drama. With the grudge match stirring excitement due to the mutual hatred shared, the bout is intriguing from a competitive viewpoint.
Styles make fights. Whether it’s the forward moving aggressor versus the counterpunch or jiu-jitsu artist against wrestler. And what makes this fight a 50/50 in many people’s minds is the classic striker vs grappler component.
Masvidal, a striker through and through, clearly has the upper hand when on the feet. He’d love nothing more than to punish his foe from kicking range, prying for openings and stepping into the pocket with uppercuts and hooks. While he must remain weary to the threat of takedowns, his ability to knee and sturdy clinch game should help diffuse these attempts.
Covington will be plotting ways to shoot for double leg takedowns or body lock positions. While these efforts would be best used reactively and as a response to offence, he’d benefit from putting Masvidal on his heels early, closing down his kicking range.
The fact this duo have years of experience training together – and once shared the same coaches – throws a spanner in the works.
American Top Team head coach Mike Brown, who currently trains Masvidal and formerly overseen Covington, believes the men’s familiarity with each other favors his current pupil.
“You train like you always do, except now you know exactly what you need to do to train for, you know? You know what the guy does, so it’s a little easier to fine-tune the training. You know exactly what his strengths and weaknesses [are].”
“You’re not guessing. I guess it’s very black and white. You know exactly what you need to do, and I think it will be a little easier to train for to be honest.”