Among the shots fired on the microphone Wednesday by Colby Covington about Saturday night’s opponent: "Division II scrub" and "Marty Juice-Man, the CEO of EPO" and "Marty ‘Fake News’ Man" and "looks like he has a chemical imbalance" and "cheating coward."
Two words Covington failed to include in his 17 minutes fielding questions at UFC 268 media day in Manhattan? "Kamaru" and "Usman," the real name of his opponent, the UFC welterweight champion and widely acknowledged as the top pound-for-pound active MMA fighter.
Not particularly nice, but certainly on brand for Covington, the latest brash and controversial personality in MMA.
Does it bother Usman to hear those things and whatever else Covington says in the media – that Usman faked injuries in the last fight, to name one — as he promotes himself and their title rematch with incendiary headline material? Nope.
"He can say everything he wants to say, but like I've said before, these guys have to realize that anything they say can and will be used against them when we step inside that octagon," Usman told Newsday earlier this week. "I am the judge. I'm the juror. And I am also the executioner when that time comes."
That time comes in the main event Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Usman won their first fight in December 2019 by TKO late in the fifth round. That fight was immediately considered one of the best in UFC welterweight history then and has stood its ground in that group as it aged. Going into the fifth and final round, one judge had it scored 39-37 for Usman, another had it 38-38 and a third judge had it 39-37 for Covington.
"We just saw a lot of mistakes that I made," Covington said. "I was fighting emotional. I threw my game plan out the window. I just wanted to put a good show for the fans. I didn't stick to what got you into the dance."
Usman also said emotion may have gotten the best of him when he faced Covington the first time at UFC 245.
"For me the wrong that I want to right is just kind of in that fight I fought with emotion," Usman said at media day Wednesday. "As much emotion as I was willing to display is what I fought with. Which is why I think I obviously I got hit quite a bit."
Wrestling and pressure and an unrelenting pace have carried Covington this far in the cage. Covington (16-2) credited his coaches with helping establish a newfound energy for the rematch.
"We've been growing as a fighter every single day," Covington said. "And you're going to see new wrinkles in my game. We've updated the software. I'm going to control-alt-delete Marty on Saturday night."
Usman (19-1) has won all 14 of his UFC bouts, including four consecutive title defenses. The first fight against Covington would appear to have been his toughest so far, despite it ending with a TKO.
"It's simple. It wasn't a decision. I finished him," Usman said at media day. "And of course he did the best he could. I actually liked the fact that he stopped with the excuses and he kept making excuses because, again, they made you guys all want to see that again.
"I'm better than this guy in every way possible. I'm just better than him. And that's just one thing that I do well, that I didn't realize until these wins started racking up, like, ‘I can kind of control these fights, where they take place and how they go.’"