When was the last time the UFC saw a title fight where both opponents hailed from the same gym? You may have to go back to when Jon Jones dethroned Rashad Evans at UFC 145. I can’t recall anything since. This is a situation American Top Team coach Mike Brown knows he is running in to when Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington square off for the Welterweight title later this year.
“We’re just running into that problem now,” Brown said.
“There is another side where you do see ATT fighters fight [other] ATT fighters. When you see some of the guys that are actually not training at the home base gym a whole lot they’re at one of the satellite gyms,” Brown continued.
Woodley currently runs an ATT satellite gym in Missouri. The top MMA gyms typically have more than one location allowing fighters easier access for training. In this particular scenario, Woodley and Covington would train in separate locations. Yet the question does remain: how will gyms handle a situation where teammates are paired against each other?
“This is a whole new problem, but its a good problem,” Brown exclaimed.
“We’re kind of separating the coaches because we have a big coaching staff,” Brown continued.
“We kind of separate the coaches for each fighter so they’re not overlapping,” Brown stated.
“And this is the first time it has happened really. It’s coming up right now so we’re just trying to feel things out and go through those motions and we will let you know how that goes in, like, six months because its just happening now for the first time,” Brown finished.
So while the impending Woodley-Covington fight won’t have to address fighters being at the same location, it will certainly have to face a potentially larger issue when teammates do not get along. Woodley went on the MMA Hour earlier this year and told Ariel Helwani he wanted Covington off the team.
“I talked to Dan Lambert today. I told him that after I whoop his ass I want him off the team. He’s a disgrace to American Top Team, the tradition it was rooted in, he’s a disgrace to the sport and a mockery to the toughest and best division in the UFC’s history, the welterweight division,” Woodley told Helwani in June.
It was a hot topic I had to discuss with Brown further. Does Woodley insist that Covington be removed from the team after the two fight later this year?
“Im assuming that he’s talking shit but I don’t know maybe he’s serious about it,” Brown said of Woodley.
“I don’t know, I don’t think Colby is going anywhere, but I’m sure Colby’s not making any fans or maybe he is making fans. He’s not making people happy with his style that he’s going about it or this shtick – and, you know, honestly I was never a big fan of it. You know it’s a bit of the pro wrestling style was brought in, but I will say it’s worked.”
Time will tell if these fighters continue to represent ATT moving forward, but Brown couldn’t help but boast on Covington’s skill.
“Love him or hate him everybody is listening to what he’s saying,” Brown stated.
“And he has the skills to back it up. He is absolutely 100% an amazing fighter and can beat anyone in the world and he’s showing that now.”