Covington said he deserves — and expects to get — a shot at the UFC welterweight champion after handing Maia his second straight loss by unanimous decision. The only fighter he is considering as his next opponent is — you guessed it — Woodley, and he even has a time frame and location thought out: the first quarter of 2018 and St. Louis, Woodley’s hometown, respectively.
“I’m very confident that’ll be my next fight,” Covington told BloodyElbow.com. “I knew that going into the Demian Maia fight, if I beat Demian Maia convincingly, I would get the Tyron Woodley fight, since he was the last challenger to fight Tyron Woodley.”
“And look how Tyron Woodley looked against him. He looked scared, he backed up. Demian Maia was controlling the cage, backing him up the whole time, Tyron fighting all defensive, fighting like crap. He looked like sh-t. He needs to go back to Hollywood in these B movies that are gonna go straight to DVD, because he ain’t fighting anymore. That guy’s boring; he sucks as a champ. So I knew that I will get the next title shot after what I just did to Demian Maia in his home country. And it makes sense to go to Tyron’s backyard in St. Louis.”
UFC president Dana White said after the recent announcement of Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos that that pivotal 170-pound matchup will determine Woodley’s next challenger. That was before Covington upset Maia, however, and the American Top Team fighter thinks he did enough last weekend to change the UFC boss’ mind.
“I definitely convinced [White] and the UFC enough that I am next for Tyron Woodley,” Covington said. “There is legitimate bad blood — this isn’t just media bullcrap; this is legitimate bad blood. I’ve been beating the dude’s ass for four or five years at American Top Team. That’s a legitimate storyline. I do think that I did pass those guys up.”
Covington predicted that Lawler vs. dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 26 will be a “boring” fight between “two old guys in there just not doing too much.” He said he should not be passed over for the winner of that bout, because dos Anjos has fought lesser competition in his welterweight stint and Lawler was knocked out by Woodley in July 2016.
“Look at RDA. He’s off the juice, he looked like sh-t. He’s beaten two guys on losing streaks — Tarec Saffiedine, three-fight losing streak; Neil Magny, two-, three-fight losing streak,” Covington said. “And then Lawler was already knocked out in under a minute. And also, Lawler ain’t gonna come do these interviews; he ain’t gonna come on this show and do an interview. So I don’t think those guys will pass me up no matter who wins.”
Covington said Woodley “needs” him, since he has created a storm in the welterweight division. Covington’s controversy will sell the fight, he said. Plus, fans will be able to root for the “fading” champ, whose career “is at an end,” according to Covington.
“He needs someone like me, because I’m the villain, I’m the bad guy now,” he said. “He needs someone like me, someone that the fans are going to hate. They can rally to his side, because he plays the victim card and he’s always complaining.”
Woodley is still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in his last title defense, a decision over Maia at UFC 214 at the end of July. He is expected to return in early 2018.
That isn’t stopping Covington from solely focusing on a fight against the titleholder. Covington wants nothing to do with anyone else.
That said, after initially stating he planned to wait for Woodley, Covington implied that if he was given some sort of short-notice opportunity or if he was not given the next title shot, he might take one more fight simply because he enjoys what he does.
“I’m only focused on Tyron Woodley 100-percent right now,” he said. “We’ll have to see how it plays out. I’m gonna take a little time just to hang out back home in Oregon and relax with my family and stuff. Whenever Tyron Woodley wants to go, we can go.
“If something happens, I’m a fighter. I love fighting, and I’m the best in the world right now.”
Covington said it’s only a matter of time before he shares the Octagon with Woodley.
“Everybody in the world knows how good I am. Tyron Woodley knows how good I am,” he said. “I’d probably be like a 2-to-1 favorite over Woodley if we fought.”