During Thursday's press conference ahead of Saturday's UFC 253, UFC president Dana White was asked about Colby Covington's recent comments that have been called racist by some fighters in the organization. White responded by saying that the promotion doesn't "muzzle anybody."
"These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don't muzzle anybody here," White said. "We let everybody speak their mind. I don't know what he said that was racist. I don't know if I heard anything racist that he said."
Following his victory over Tyron Woodley last Saturday, Covington was involved with a post-fight verbal altercation with Kamaru Usman, who hails from Nigeria. During the exchange, Covington asked if Usman got a call from his "little tribe" using "smoke signals." Covington also got a call from President Donald Trump after the fight, and is a longtime Trump supporter.
In addition, Covington described Woodley as "a communist, a Marxist, [someone] standing up for lifelong criminals." Covington also criticized "woke athletes" like LeBron James in the midst of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
With regards to White, it's unclear if he was aware of every comment that Covington made following last Saturday's fight. It also wasn't the first time that Covington has made headlines for insensitive comments. In 2017, Covington referred to Brazilians as "filthy animals" prior to a bout with Demian Maia in Sao Paulo.
Israel Adesanya, who is headlining the UFC 253 card against Paulo Costa, was very outspoken regarding Covington's remarks.
"It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now," Adesanya said Wednesday. "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," added Adesanya, who was also born in Nigeria. "So, yeah. I don't really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw [when they fought in 2019], so I don't really care."