Colby Covington thinks UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov purposely avoided moving up to welterweight.
Nurmagomedov had a perfect MMA career, going unbeaten in 29 fights with three lightweight title defenses against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. One thing “The Eagle” never attempted was chasing after a second UFC title, but Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) believes he wouldn’t have been able to handle the gritty grappling style of welterweights such as himself if he did.
“He never came to 170, because the man’s here,” Covington told My MMA News. “He doesn’t wanna fight the man. He knew the man that had a great style for him, the guy that was way more well rounded, could stuff his takedowns, being in his face and punch, and putting volume on him, and doesn’t break under cardio. Like, that’s what I do best. I would’ve walked him down. So, him and Makhachev need to shut their f*cking mouths. They’re all talk and no walk like myself.”
After welterweight champion Leon Edwards retained his title against Kamaru Usman in Saturday’s UFC 286 headliner, UFC president Dana White declared Covington the No. 1 contender. Covington flew to London to weigh in as a backup for the title fight, but his services weren’t needed.
With many fighters vying for a shot at Edwards, lightweight champion and Nurmagomedov’s protege, Makhachev, threw his name in the mix too. But Covington said both Nurmagomedov and Makhachev’s wrestling would be no match for his top-tier American style.
“It’s been right time, right place,” Covington said. “They’ve been able to fight guys that didn’t have wrestling backgrounds. If they fought a guy that was a USA-level wrestler, like an Olympic-level wrestler, they’re gonna get smoked. It’s not even gonna be competitive. American wrestling is much better, much more revolutionized, and just a better style of wrestling that works in the UFC. These guys have just been able to capitalize. Right time, right place with the right matchups.”