Crisis Averted

Kamaru Usman may have waltzed into the Octagon as the favourite to retain his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title at UFC 245, but all week it felt like fighters, fans and media were bracing themselves for Colby Covington to pull the upset.

Covington, the walking embodiment of lowest-common-denominator-self-promotion, was ubiquitous during fight week. Despite the fact that “Chaos” possesses a much lower social media profile than many of his counterparts, not to mention the fact that his fights have drawn mediocre numbers to date, the media both in and outside the MMA bubble were occupied by the character he’s taken to playing — and were amplifying every absurd thing that came out of his mouth.

From bragging about his “bedroom cardio,” to gloating about the death of Usman’s former manager Glenn Robinson, to accusing Usman of using EPO and endlessly moshing for Donald Trump and the First Family, Covington’s heel persona was all controversy and no charisma. He donned cheap suits and a Trump-branded baseball cap, stuck rigidly to a script manufactured to trigger and troll as many individuals and institutions as possible and generated attention and infamy the only way he knows how. It was cringeworthy and artless, but effective as hell, with Covington further embedding himself as both a gimmicky pro-wrestling heel and a cultural ambassador of reactionary right-wing politics. If his appearances on the Candace Owens Show and writeups from major outlets including Sports Illustrated, the South China Morning Post and the LA Times show anything, it’s that attention equates to influence.

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