Should the UFC censor fighters’ trash talk?

Daniel Cunningham
Dec 14, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kamaru Usman (red gloves) fights Colby Covington (blue gloves) during UFC 245 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Over this past weekend at UFC Vegas 11, Colby Covington defeated Tyron Woodley. However, a topic of discussion this week has been centered more around what Covington said after the fight as opposed to his dominant performance.

Covington labeled Woodley a communist in his post-fight press conference and mentioned tribal smoke signals in a back and forth with UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. Of course, there have been many up in arms about what Covington had to say.

Many in the media have come out and said that the UFC needs to intervene. Dana White has responded saying that the UFC has never and won’t censor what their fighters can say before a fight. It should be known that this is not something new in the fight game.

In boxing years before they fought, Floyd Mayweather came under fire after he said to Manny Pacquiao, “Make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.” Mayweather did later apologize for the racist comment towards the Filipino boxing champion.

Conor McGregor also came under fire during his promotional tour with Floyd Mayweather. The former UFC double champion asked Mayweather and his crew to dance, but used the term, monkeys. That was again in the headlines as a racially decisive comment.

What should the UFC do?

Let me be clear about my opinion. I don’t think it’s okay for anyone of any race to say anything offensive towards another individual simply because of the color of their skin. No matter what the situation, it’s not okay. If I was running a business, I wouldn’t let it happen because there’s no place for it.

However, this situation is different. We are talking about the UFC and fighting here. This is the one arena in life where your words can truly come back to bite you. I’ll remind you that Kamaru Usman broke Colby Covington’s jaw last December. It’s not like he got away with what he was saying.

The UFC welterweight champion seemed calm and composed during his exchange with Covington. Fighting is a very personal game, and even if the words are offensive, they are part of the story of the build up. Right now, we live in a very unique time where the country is extremely divided.

Racial relations are at a bubbling point in the US. I can definitely understand where folks are coming from in encouraging the UFC to step in. My only counter argument is that it’s the fight game. At the end of the day, you have to back up everything you see in the arena of combat.

Fortunately, I’m not running the UFC and I don’t have to make that choice. Because of the arena, I would say that the promotion should let fighters be to a point. I think the UFC should draw a line of where their fighters can go. It’s a touchy subject, but I don’t think the UFC should do anything different as of now.