Fighting words from two UFC welterweights

UFC fighters Colby Covington and Rafael dos Anjos were in town to kick-off ticket sales for the UFC Fight Night on June 17.

Colvington, dos Anjos throw verbal punches at each other in curtain-raiser to June event

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight fighter Colby Covington, known for his grappling, showed he can do almost as much damage with his mouth at a UFC promotional event yesterday.

In the august halls of the ArtScience Museum, Covington showed there is as much art in throwing shade as there is in science as he battered Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos with verbal barbs.

"There are real fighters, there are scared fighters and that's what we have over here to the right," said the 29-year-old American.

"He's scared, he know (sic) he's scared. I'm the most feared guy in the game right now. I scare the ink out of pens."

Fellow welterweight Dos Anjos, 32 and clearly irked, shot back: "I don't know who this guy is. This new generation of MMA fighters, they try to get attention (like UFC star) Conor McGregor.

"You can't try to copy somebody else. Just be yourself."

The irony? They are not even fighting each other.

Rafael dos Anjos (background) walking past Colby Covington at the UFC Singapore press conference held yesterday at the ArtScience Museum. Both fighters traded barbs when talking about their prospects for the MMA giant's second fight night, to be held in Singapore on June 17. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

At the June 17 UFC Fight Night Singapore, Covington will be up against South Korean Dong Hyun Kim, while dos Anjos will face Tarec Saffiedine.

But this combination of in-your-face braggadocio and histrionics, synonymous with the UFC, is what fans can expect to see as the event, to be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, draws nearer.

Pre-fight gimmickry aside, the Singapore show will be UFC's first fight night in Asia since a November 2015 event in Seoul and the world's largest MMA organisation looks set to trot out its biggest names in June.

Hours before yesterday's event, news broke online that Holly Holm could co-anchor the Singapore event in a bantamweight bout with Bethe Correia.

Holm is popularly known as the fighter who in 2015 ended Ronda Rousey's three-year reign as champion with a brutal knockout. Her win, in the bantamweight title bout, is considered one of the sport's biggest upsets.



    Rafael dos Anjos v Tarec Saffiedine (welterweight)

    Andrei Arlovski v Marcin Tybura (heavyweight)

    Dong Hyun Kim v Colby Covington (welterweight)

    Takanori Gomi v John Tuck (heavyweight)

    Justin Scoggins v Ulka Sasaki (flyweight)

    Kwan Ho Kwak v Russell Doane (bantamweight)

    Alex Carceres v Wang Guan (featherweight)

    Cyril Asker v Walt Harris (heavyweight)

    Naoki Inoue v Carls John de Thomas (flyweight)

Indeed, UFC are keeping fans in suspense, with the main event and co-main event of the Singapore fight card still unknown.

This is in contrast to their first event in Singapore in 2014, when the relatively unknown Saffiedine was the headline act.

But Asia is now high on their agenda. According to UFC, the region boasts an estimated 93 million UFC fans, some 35 per cent of its total fan base of 269 million.

Asked about the possibility of Holm's participation, a UFC spokesman told The Straits Times: "Nothing is official at the moment but we look forward to confirming a main event soon."

One thing is for sure - for all their differences, dos Anjos and Covington are united in wanting to thrill fans when they respectively enter the octagon.

Dos Anjos said: "I always come to finish off my opponents. I don't play for points. I can't wait."

Covington, though, delivered the knockout blow when he said: "Dong's had a great career and I'm going to send him out on a high note. Singapore has great food and after I beat him up, hopefully (you) will name a dish after him to commemorate his career."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Fighting words from two UFC welterweights'. Print Edition | Subscribe