Colby Covington is a man with a plan.
After knocking off his first top 10 opponent earlier this year in Dong Hyun Kim, Covington immediately turned his attention towards two goals — beating Demian Maia and then stomping welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
The former All-American wrestler will get his chance for part one of that scenario this weekend as Covington faces Maia in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night from Brazil in a pivotal matchup at 170 pounds.
For Maia, this is his first fight back after losing to Woodley earlier this year in his second opportunity to capture UFC gold following a long winning streak in the welterweight division. Meanwhile, Covington sees this matchup as a gateway to the title shot and that’s why he’s proclaimed Oct. 28 as the day he ascends to the throne in the UFC while graciously sending Maia packing to retirement.
“It’s no coincidence that Halloween is two days after our fight so Maia’s retirement party will officially be labeled ‘The Nightmare in Sao Paolo”,” Covington said when speaking to the Fight Society podcast this week.
“I feel like that’s the biggest win out there in the division. What’s a bigger win than beating the guy who had the direct last fight for the title? Not only doing that, but going into his home city in a hostile environment where he’s probably going to be the best he’s ever been, training harder than he’s ever trained, and the judges aren’t going to be on my side anyways. But it’s not going to make a difference because I’m going to lay him to rest in the first round.”
Covington rarely holds his tongue when it comes to criticizing opponents and that includes Maia, who rarely has a bad word to say about anybody leading up to a fight.
While Covington has seen plenty of Maia’s fights, he’s training alongside Jorge Masvidal who just battled him earlier this year and then he watched the championship bout against Woodley in July.
It’s safe to say, Covington wasn’t impressed.
“I thought it was the most boring welterweight title fight in the history of the UFC,” Covington said. “I thought it was a disgrace to our division. That’s why I’m here now to bring excitement back to this division.”
Covington truly believes he’s the savior to reinvigorate the welterweight division with hopes of beating Maia and then claiming his spot as the true No. 1 contender to face Woodley with the title on the line next year.
“It shows that I am the new Don of the welterweight division. I run this division now. Every fighter that competes in this division competes in this division because I allow them to,” Covington said.
“I do believe after I beat Demian Maia, cause that’s a forgone conclusion, that’s an absolute certainty that I’m going to retire Demian Maia on Oct. 28. I do believe that puts me in elite company as the No. 1 clear cut contender.”
As far as any other names at 170 pounds hoping to get the shot at Woodley next, Covington quickly negates anybody fighting for the title other than him. That includes former teammate Robbie Lawler as well as two-time title contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who have both fallen to Woodley in the past.
Like a hunter pointing at his prey before pulling the trigger, Covington has Woodley in his sights and no one is going to take that away from him after he’s finished with Maia.
“I feel like Robbie Lawler had his shot, he got knocked out quick. He’s old guard, he’s a thing of the past. He needs to hang it up already. He had his time but his time has come to an end. It’s my time now. I do believe that I’m the next clear cut No. 1 contender. Stephen Thompson already had two opportunities at the belt. He couldn’t hack,” Covington said. “They need to bring in a killer like me to dethrone Tyron Woodley.
“That guy needs to consent to retirement. I’m sick of him playing the victim role, acting like ‘oh everybody’s racist because they don’t want to see me fight’. No, that’s not the case. You play it safe. I know his weaknesses. I’m going to retire Tyron Woodley. So after I beat Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley better be next for me.”
Listen to Covington and UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on the latest Fight Society podcast or download and subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts.