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A new welterweight title contender has emerged but the UFC aren't happy with his conduct

Colby Covington referred to Brazilian fans as “filthy animals” after beating Demian Maia in Sao Paulo.

PA-33489726 Colby Covington made a big statement last night in Sao Paulo. Source: Paulo Lopes via ZUMA Wire

DEREK BRUNSON MAY have picked up a big victory over former champion Lyoto Machida in last night’s UFC Fight Night 119 main event in Brazil, but the headlines were hogged by another American who was also victorious over a home favourite.

For Irish fans, the name Colby Covington probably evokes memories of his 2015 Twitter spat with Cathal Pendred, when he vowed to bury the Dubliner “like the British buried the Irish”.

Love him or loathe him — and it’s more than likely the latter — one has to give Covington credit for making an impressive amount of progress in the UFC’s welterweight division in the meantime. Back then his record under the UFC banner was 2-0. Last night in Sao Paulo he went to 8-1 (13-1 overall) with the biggest win of his career so far.

Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia surprisingly had some success with his striking in the opening frame, Covington eventually found his rhythm and earned a unanimous-decision win over three rounds — 29-27, 30-27, 30-26.

The victory was undoubtedly the most significant of the Californian’s career. Maia, who was beaten by welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in his previous outing, has now lost twice in succession having had a seven-fight win streak snapped by the title-holder.

Source: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship/YouTube

In his post-fight interview with reigning UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, Covington proceeded to antagonise the entire arena by cutting a WWE-style promo, which resulted in the 29-year-old being showered with missiles as he left the octagon.

“Brazil, you’re a dump. All you filthy animals suck,” Covington said.

On Twitter this afternoon, Covington issued a phoney apology for his comments: “I would like to formally apologise to any filthy animal I offended by comparing them to my hosts in Sao Paulo.”

However, according to UFC senior vice president David Shaw, Covington could be in trouble over his interview with Cormier. That’s in spite of the criticism the organisation has faced over the past week due to their silence over lightweight champion Conor McGregor’s use of homophobic language at an event in Gdansk.

“There’s no way for us to support any fans throwing items at any staff or any fighters,” Shaw told the media after last night’s event in Brazil, which was attended by over 10,000 spectators.

“However, having said that, we are taking the situation with Covington very seriously. It’s already being reviewed by our code of conduct committee and it’s something that we are not very happy about.”

UFC Fight Night Sao Paulo Colby Covington gestures to Demian Maia. Source: Paulo Lopes

The UFC’s track record in such instances suggests that Covington is unlikely to be dealt any significant punishment. His main focus now will be on pursuing a shot at Tyron Woodley.

While the champion’s next defence is expected to be against the winner of the December bout between Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos, Covington has certainly put himself in the title picture by taking out the third-ranked contender.

Covington said last night: “Tyron Woodley, I’m coming for you. If you don’t answer the door, I’m going to knock it in and take what’s mine — that welterweight belt.”

Covington, whose only career loss came via first-round submission to Warlley Alves at UFC 194 in December 2015, has now won his last five bouts. That run also contains victories over Dong Hyun Kim, Bryan Barbarena, Max Griffin and Jonathan Meunier.

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