2017 Breakout Fighter of the Year: Colby Covington

January 9, 2018

Colby Covington is not in the UFC to make friends.

That was never more evident than the 29-year-old welterweight’s meteoric rise up the rankings in 2017, while taking shots at just about every single fighter on the UFC roster including some of his own teammates.

On the surface, Covington is a brash, outspoken loud mouth who just enjoys pissing people off with whatever venom he can spew over social media or through interviews. Digging a little deeper, it’s impossible to ignore that Covington has carved out a place for himself in the UFC landscape, where he might just be the most hated man in mixed martial arts today, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

There’s an old adage in the world of professional wrestling that the worst thing that can happen to a performer is going into the ring and hearing nothing but silence from the crowd. The key in that profession is to make the audience absolutely love you or seethe with anger and hatred every time you step into the ring.

Colby Covington rips into Brazilian fansThat’s what Covington managed to do in 2017 while simultaneously picking up two huge wins in the welterweight division to put him on the cusp of title contention.

For all his insults and outrageous posts on social media, Covington has backed up his trash talk with performances inside the Octagon because without those wins, no one is going to pay much attention to what he has to say.

Covington started the year with a lopsided victory over perennial top 10 ranked fighter Dong Hyun Kim in a fight he asked for repeatedly until the UFC finally granted his wish. The victory catapulted Covington into the rankings, but he was far from finished.

From there, Covington set his sights on former title contender Demian Maia, going as far as offering to face him in his home country of Brazil just months after he battled welterweight champion Tyron Woodley for the belt.

Now Maia might just be one of the most soft spoken, genuinely nice people involved in mixed martial arts, but that didn’t stop Covington from attacking him at all angles in the lead-up to their fight.

Colby Covington’s October Interview on Fight Society

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Once again, Covington backed his talk with a win as he battered Maia for the better part of three rounds, bloodying the veteran UFC contender before unleashing a post-fight speech that turned the entire country of Brazil against him.

Of course, Covington made just as many headlines for his outside the cage antics, including an altercation in Australia where former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum ended up throwing a boomerang at him after they exchanged words.

Covington managed to get virtually every Brazilian fighter on the UFC roster asking for the opportunity to fight him and he’s made it his personal business to launch a relentless attack on Woodley for the past few months.

Somehow, Covington even managed to cause a rift in his home gym at American Top Team with fighters from inside those same four walls offering to settle the score with him, which is almost unheard of with most major training camps.

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Covington soaked it all in with the same kind of glow that iconic pro wrestlers such as Ric Flair, the Iron Sheik, or “Rowdy” Roddy Piper used to bathe in every night as fans constantly showered them in a chorus of boos. As much as you might dislike Colby Covington, your disdain only serves to further fuel him to go that much harder.

To put it best, Covington has made it clear that he doesn’t care much if you love him — and he really doesn’t seem to give a damn if you hate him — but all that matters is that you’re paying attention.

Thanks to his Donald Trump-ian like social media attacks coupled with a pair of wins over top 10 opponents, there’s no denying Covington had everybody’s eyes on him in 2017.