BAD blood is a term regularly thrown around big fights, yet few truly deserve it. However, this weekend’s UFC 272 main event is the epitome of Bad Blood; these two actually hate one another’s guts.
It never used to be like that. There was a time when Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal were inseparable. Training partners at American Top Team (ATT) in Florida, the pair formed an unlikely double act based around improving one another’s skillset.
Colby is an All-American wrestler with a ferocious gas tank. Whilst Jorge’s lifetime striking took him from the boat yards of Miami to the UFC Octagon. Each played a key role in helping the other improve.
They even lived together, vacationed together and spent time with one another’s families. But then the wheels came off.
Why? Money, of course. Money and fame. And jealousy; lack of trust. All the usual reasons why relationships break down. The difference here was that it played out in public via the MMA media.
Masvidal claims Covington failed to pay a mutual coach what he was due after claiming the Interim title in the summer of 2018. Covington insists it’s because he’d simple ran past his former friend in the rankings and outgrown him as a training partner.
Either way, it cost them both a spot at the acclaimed ATT gym. Owner Dan Lambert, sick of all the bickering and posturing kicked them both out in 2020. And whilst Masvidal was allowed to return a few months later, Covington was quick to move on.
Colby Covington. Jorge Masvidal. The Rivalry. The Grudge Match 😤
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) February 28, 2022
Jorge, 37, enjoyed the best year of his career in 2019, knocking out Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz on his way to the BMF belt and world title contention at 170.
Covington, 34, ended the same year with a failed attempt at the world crown, stopped in the final minute of an engaging five-rounder with Kamaru Usman at UFC 245.
He bounced back in 2020 by retiring former champ Tyron Woodley with a TKO of his own. But once again found unbeaten Usman too tough a nut to crack in their rematch last November.
Similarly, since his glorious 2019 run, Mavidal has fought just twice, outpointed by Usman in the summer of 2020 and suffering the first real knockout defeat of his 50-fight career in a return last April.
Despite their status below the welterweight king, the personalities and marketability of both men – especially locked in a trash talk swamped showdown – will actually ensure they generate bigger pay-per-view numbers in the States this weekend than Usman likely will in his next defence.
Some things mean more than shiny belts too. Like eternal bragging right over a bitter rival. And that’s what’s at stake inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday.
Colby could take Masvidal down and attempt to grapple and ground-n-pound his way to a frustrating, unrelenting points victory. After all, he’s done it often enough before.
But something tells me he wants to beat up Masvidal on the feet to make a real statement and leave no questions unanswered. And that’s what makes this match-up so intriguing. You play Masvidal at his own game at your peril.