Covington, who is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and visited him in the White House in 2018, defeated Tyron Woodley via TKO last weekend at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. During fight week, Woodley wore a shirt with the words "Black Lives Matter" and answered every question during a news conference with some variation of the phrase.
After the fight, Covington referred to Woodley as "a communist, a Marxist, [someone] standing up for lifelong criminals." After receiving a phone call from President Trump shortly after the fight, Covington also asked current UFC champion Kamaru Usman, who was born in Nigeria, if he got a call from his "little tribe" using "smoke signals."
The UFC has not punished Covington for the comments or commented on them. However, Adesanya and other fighters with the promotion spoke openly on the subject this week.
"It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now," Adesanya said. "I made a joke about dropping [Yoel] Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke and it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and like, digging -- but I was making a joke.
"This guy [Covington] has directly insulted my culture, my brother and many other cultures, and no one says anything, but it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So, yeah. I don't really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw [when they fought in 2019], so I don't really care."
Bantamweight Sijara Eubanks said, "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."
Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu, said, "It's crazy that comments like that are causing more and more divide amongst the people. That's how he gets down, but I'm not really with that and I took offense to that for sure. ... [The UFC] was almost worried about my walkout song, and he's gonna be saying stuff like that? That's crazy."
Covington has a history of using racially charged language around his fights. In 2017, Covington referred to Brazil as "a dump," and called Brazilians "filthy animals" prior to a fight against Demian Maia in Sao Paulo, Brazil.