Dana White Says UFC 'Won't Muzzle Anybody' After Colby Covington's Remarks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, UFC President Dana White speaks at a news conference in New York. UFC 249 has been canceled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic. After defiantly vowing for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights, White announced the decision to cease competition Thursday, April 9, on ESPN, the UFC's broadcast partner. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

UFC President Dana White indicated the company won't curtail Colby Covington's ability to speak publicly after he made racist comments that were criticized by multiple fighters.

"These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don't muzzle anybody here," White said, per ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "We let everybody speak their mind. I don't know what he said that was racist. I don't know if I heard anything racist that he said."

After his victory over Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night 178 last Saturday, Covington criticized Woodley's support for Black Lives Matter efforts by making unfounded remarks about Woodley's political beliefs and the movement's purpose.

"He's a communist; he's a Marxist," Covington said of Woodley. "He stands for criminals. He hates America. That's why he got broke tonight."

He went on to claim the Black Lives Matter movement is "a complete sham" and those who support it "are complete terrorists."

Covington then directed his animosity toward Kamaru Usman, who was working as an analyst for ESPN's coverage of the show. Following his call after UFC Fight Night from President Donald Trump, whom Covington has repeatedly voiced his support for publicly, Covington asked the Nigerian-born fighter whether he'd hear from his "little tribe" who would "give you some smoke signals."

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Women's bantamweight fighter Sijara Eubanks condemned the racist remarks to Okamoto:

"Let's be real, first and foremost. It wasn't 'unfortunate.' It was flat-out racist. It was racist. It was disgusting. It was quite frankly disappointing, but at the same time, the one thing I appreciate is the UFC lets whoever say whatever. They have never muzzled us as fighters. If you want to talk, if you don't want to talk, if you want to be political, if you don't want to be political, I have to appreciate the company lets us say what we want.

"But to be fair, I think guys that talk like Mike Perry [UFC fighter who has used the N-word publicly] and Colby Covington, I think a lot of the things they say are racist and disgusting and should be reported as such, instead of 'unfortunate' or 'controversial.' It's racist."

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya also expressed his frustration that Covington "directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures" while receiving little in the way of repercussions.

Given White's comments, it appears unlikely Covington will face discipline for his comments.

The 32-year-old Covington even told The Candace Owens Show (h/t MMA Junkie) in December that he got his "big break" by calling Brazilian fans "filthy animals" after beating Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119 in October 2017.

According to Covington, the company wasn't planning to re-sign him prior to that fight but was won over because his interview in the Octagon garnered so much attention.