Ben Askren: The perceived popularity of Colby Covington was "staged"


LOS ANGELES – Colby Covington is currently fighting a unilateral war against UFC and President Dana White. Covington thought, like many others, that he should have won the next title against Tyron Woodley, who will now go to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 Saturday in Las Vegas.

Covington called White just about every name in the book. He threatened lawsuits, asked the UFC to cut him off and said that he would never fight again.

Ben Askren, who will make his UFC debut at UFC 235, said Monday at a press luncheon that he did not think it would happen.

"Colby has no skill," said Askren. "He must fight. … it's not fighting, I do not think that one person in the whole world will shed a tear. Thank God, that time is over. I think the UFC has done more than it was, because if you look at one of its social media, it does not have as many followers. There has never been so much "We want to see Colby!" It just was not there. It was staged.

Covington won the UFC interim welterweight title in June 2018, defeating Rafael dos Anjos in UFC 225. That should have prepared him for a fight against Woodley later last year, but that did not work out. Covington needed sinus surgery and the UFC continued unsuccessfully by organizing Woodley, Askren's close friend and teammate, in a fight against Darren Till at UFC 228 in September. Woodley beat Till by submission.

Once again, when Woodley had time to defend the belt, Covington felt it should have been him versus the champion. But apparently, Covington played a hard ball. White said Covington would not get the ball in his own way and the UFC has moved in another direction – Usman.

Undefeated Askren (18-0, 1 NC) will not see himself fighting Covington soon. He has an appointment with former champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 this weekend. Askren, 34, is in the UFC to prove he's part of the world's elite after the dominant races with Bellator and the ONE Championship. "Funky" think Covington is clearly Woodley's next candidate if he beats Usman anyway.

"I think that's the next obvious fight for Tyron," Askren said. "It's so easy. Who does not like easy money? "

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