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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Getting Ahead by Getting People Mad

“First it was boos that rained down upon Colby Covington. Then it was booze.

After his unanimous decision win over hometown-favorite Demian Maia in the UFC Fight Night 119 co-headliner on Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Covington proceeded to get on the microphone and call the host country “a dump” and the 10,000 Brazilians in attendance “filthy animals.” Derek Kronig was on translator duty for the event, but Daniel Cormier didn’t bother to pass him the microphone. Covington reveled in it: “We ain’t translating tonight, baby!” As he was rushed out of the arena by security, fans pelted him with cups of beer and whatever trash was within reach. Clearly, no translation was needed.

Covington and his antics became the most talked-about part of the show, despite his fight with Maia being altogether forgettable. On paper, beating a top-five welterweight in his hometown is impressive, but the manner in which Covington won did not make anyone clamor to see him in a title fight. Don’t be surprised, though, if that’s exactly where he ends up. In this era of the UFC, ratings trump rankings, and playing the villain — even when it’s done poorly — continues to work. Covington was the biggest story of the night because he made people angry. He failed to excite anyone with his actual fighting, but angering people is a fine enough substitute. Anger is a powerful source to tap into. It excites and energizes us in real, biochemical ways. Our brains secrete adrenaline, our hearts beat faster and our bodies pulse with the same evolutionary readiness to do battle that was a necessary survival tool for much of human history. Only now, our “battles” mostly take place via seething comments online…”


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