The big talking point in the aftermath of UFC 245 should have been Kamaru Usman’s knockout win over Colby Covington. Instead, the focus was on Covington’s loss and the broken jaw he sustained in that defeat.
It would have been better if the media and fans had focused on Usman’s win and the moment at the post-fight press conference when he pointed out that he, not Covington, was the American dream realized.
“I’ve said it time and time again, I’m more American than him,” said Usman. “I am what it means to be an American. I’m an immigrant that come here and work my ass off tirelessly to get to the top, and I’m still prevailing. And so that’s what it means to be an American. It’s not necessarily just because you’re born here, you feel privileged is what it means to be an American. No. I told you none of these guys work harder than me. That’s what it means to be an American. I work my ass off, and I’m going to continue to work my ass off and obviously with good integrity.”
Instead, we got the #MAGAJAW hashtag (which I admittedly found amusing) and a whole lot of people both inside and outside the MMA bubble clowning on Covington.
It was not a surprise that people took pleasure in Covington’s loss. His entire presentation to fans and fellow fighters was built around the fact that he (allegedly) wanted to be hated. He was a villain. He wanted people to tune in to see him lose.
With the ESPN+ pay-per-numbers under wraps, we’ll never know if Covington achieved that goal. What we do know is that it’s Wednesday, and the #MAGAJAW takes are still rolling in on Twitter.
A story on the Usman vs. Covington bout, published by The Root – which has rarely, if ever covered MMA – has been read close to 378,000 times. Even Michael Avenatti got in on the act. Yes, the Michael Avenatti, who earlier today pleaded not guilty to attempting to extort Nike for as much as $25 million.
Biff @DonaldJTrumpJr - Is your dad going to invite @ColbyCovMMA to the White House for a McDonald’s milkshake through a straw? FYI, I think it’s going to be awhile until Colby can mutter the word “shithole.” #magajaw— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) December 15, 2019
All of this gloating did not sit well with UFC fighter Michael Chiesa.
To all the people making fun of Colby with the #MAGAJAW, you’re acting just like him. Just like the person you’ve grown to hate. I dislike him just as much as you y’all but I won’t stoop to his level and you shouldn’t either.— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) December 17, 2019
I’ll concede that Chiesa has a point. It’s a bad look to revel in the fact that Usman broke Covington’s jaw. However, smirking at the thought of a MAGA hat wearing, Donald Trump Jr. book toting, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, race-baiting Trump family sycophant is not nearly equal to what Covington has said in the past—and probably will continue to say in the future. You know, at least once he can use his jaw again.
Some think Covington is playing a role. I do not belong to that camp. When someone plays a character, there’s usually a wink and a nod to let others know that it’s all a put on. We’ve never got that from Covington. Instead, it seems he’s shown us who he really is. (As I tweeted earlier today) Covington acts like “a soulless, rotten husk of human who made a name for himself being the worst kind of person imaginable.”
Understandably, those who have evolved beyond judging people on race and nationality alone are going to applaud when the dunderhead who said things like, “Brazil, you’re a dump. All you filthy animals suck” or “What has [Usman’s] family ever done for America beside serve in the Federal penitentiary?”
I’m not saying I enjoyed seeing Covington get injured as severely as he did, because I didn’t. However, I am saying that, when you’re the guy who wants people to tune in to see you lose? Well, you have to accept that when you do lose, people are going to enjoy it. And judging from social media, people took great pleasure in seeing Covington get his comeuppance.