UFC president Dana White said his promotion will not “muzzle anybody” when he was asked early Thursday morning about the reaction to recent Colby Covington comments, which several UFC fighters labeled as racist.
During a news conference in Abu Dhabi to promote Saturday’s UFC 253 card on “Fight Island,” White was asked about the fallout from Covington’s comments after his win Saturday over Tyron Woodley.
Covington, who is an outspoken supporter of President Trump and received a call from the president after his win, engaged in a heated postfight exchange with welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who was born in Nigeria. Covington asked Usman if he got a call from his “little tribe” using “smoke signals.” He also described Woodley, who is Black and has been advocating for Black Lives Matter, as “a communist, a Marxist, [someone] standing up for lifelong criminals.”
It’s uncertain how much of what Covington said was relayed to White.
After several fighters spoke out, Dana White addresses claims Colby Covington made racist remarks.
"We don’t muzzle anybody here. … I don’t know what he said that was racist."
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) September 24, 2020
“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here,” White said. “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.”
White then was asked if he would agree it’s wrong if something his fighters say is racist. “Of course, c’mon,” he said. “I’m not going to play these games with you guys.”
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who was sitting next to White and is headlining Saturday’s card, was one of three Black fighters who spoke out against Covington during a virtual media day on Wednesday.
“It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now,” Adesanya said Wednesday. “I made a joke about dropping [Yoel] Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke and it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and like, digging — but I was making a joke.
“This guy [Covington] has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures, and no one says anything, but it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So, yeah. I don’t really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw [when they fought in 2019], so I don’t really care.”
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