It was bound to happen at some point, I mean how could it not? You assemble some of the most talented mixed martial artists together in one room, and eventually one or more are going to want to establish themselves as the big dog, or the alpha in the room. You tell these athletes to work together as teammates and support one another in a sport where they compete as individuals, some in the same weight class, and at some point in spite of the facade of a mantra at so many gyms that “we don’t fight teammates” whether it’s in a sanctioned bout or an in house altercation, these things take place more than is ever found out by the public.
When the gym is one of the largest and most respected in the sport however, no matter how hard those in the gym try to keep it a secret at some point the world always finds out what is actually taking place behind the closed doors, especially when one of the teammates at the center of controversy takes to the airwaves to air the dirty laundry of the team, and has no concern about disrupting whatever harmony the facility still has.
American Top Team is undoubtedly one of the biggest and well known MMA training facilities on the planet. They house some of the biggest stars in the game, and owner Dan Lambert may have some interesting decisions to make here in the near future as the wheel are coming off his bus and I see no way for him to keep Dustin Poirier, Colby Covington, and Jorge Masvidal happy and also keep the team intact and having to at some point choose a side in this very ugly and getting uglier by the day family feud.
How did we get here? It seems like just a minute ago Covington and Masvidal were all buddy-buddy, and both were saying they were best friends and not interested in fighting one another after Covington dominated former Welterweight Champion and ATT teammate Robbie Lawler. The Lawler fight actually sparked some of the issues with Covington, but not with Masvidal, but another longtime member of the team at ATT Dustin Poirier.
Dustin Poirier apparently picked Lawler to beat Covington which angered Covington. Now I am sure that Poirier and Lawler have a good friendship that was established on the mats of ATT, and although Lawler isn’t part of ATT anymore, Poirier picked his friend to win, a natural thing to do, right? Well, gym politics would lean the other way and in Covington’s mind, and quite possibly other ATT members Poirier should have picked Covington to win as they are teammates and Lawler is no longer part of the ATT family. At the very least, maybe Poirier should have kept his opinion about that fight to himself. I believe in that. If you are going to portray the facility as a team then it’s all in all the time. Covington being pissed about this is a natural reaction.
Covington returned the favor of picking against a teammate when he picked Khabib Nurmagomedov to beat Poirier last week at UFC 242 and explained why on Ariel Helwan’s MMA show on Monday; “I had to give the people America’s pick of the week,” Covington added. “I had to give my honest opinion. I thought this was the land of the free and home of the brave. Land of opportunity, freedom of speech. Sorry, I can’t have an opinion. We don’t have the same opinion, and I just obviously knew Khabib was the better fighter.” Chaos also took shots at Poirier for his emotional post-fight interview after losing his lightweight title bout against Murmagomedov.
Now he didn’t mention that he picked against Poirier because Poirier picked against him in the Lawler fight, but we all know Covington is very petty, he’s established that in the public eye, so we know why he picked Nurmagomedov. He could have taken the high road and went with Poirier, but that would have been out of character for the King of Cringe!
So a bit of tit for tat between Poirier and Covington. Both doing the same thing to each other, not a great thing, but I get it. Poirier however, was more miffed at Covington’s comments about Masvidal once the BMF fight between Masvidal and Nate Diaz was announced.
“I know you’re dumb and desperate, but you spelled JOURNEYMAN TITLE wrong junior. Reading is fundamental and #supernecessary. Just like WINNING is #supernecessary to get title fights. You should try both some time, you trash bag!”- Covington via Twitter after Masvidal tweeted about his UFC 244 main event “Hey @NateDiaz209 fuck these losers. See you at MSG. #BMF title on the line #supernecessary”
“The state of my relationship with Jorge Masvidal is, he’s the type of guy that, when you’re doing something for him, he’ll use you, as long as you’re doing better than him and you’re not helping him anymore, then he doesn’t care about you.”
The main event slot at MSG has long been on the list of things Covington has wanted, and he could have been the main event at UFC 244 opposite Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman but negotiations broke down, and the UFC stands still for nobody and booked the BMF Belt fight between Diaz and Masvidal leaving Covington out in the cold and jealous in my opinion of his teammate getting what he has craved for so long.
Masvidal isn’t the type of guy to air his business in the public eye, when he does, however, it’s as real as it gets no false bravado, no fake hype to sell anything, if he has an issue with someone he goes to them to handle it as he always has, man to man. He made mention of a few things himself during his interview on Monday as well.
“This is supposed to be between me and him, not between me and the (expletive) world.” Gamebred went on; “All I know is that he knows what fuc**ing gym I’m at and when I’m (expletive) there. Or actually maybe he doesn’t know,” Masvidal said. “So I can be at the gym tomorrow, Thursday, whenever you want, Colby. I can be at the gym, and whatever incidents you’re having, we can talk about it like men.”
By the way, Poirier also had a warning for his teammate about when they cross paths again. “When I see you again at the gym @colbycovmma it’s on-site. I promise you”.
Covington seems to be the instigator of all this when you look at everything that has transpired. He has created this pro wrestling heel character, and it may have gotten out of control and now there is no turning back. When Covington has gotten mouthy about other fighters in the past and was confronted out of the octagon by those he disparaged like UFC heavyweight Fabricio Werdum who flipped a boomerang at Covington in Australia after Chaos took a verbal crap all over Brazil and it’s people. Covington cowered, and rather than back up his mouth, he for lack of a better term “bitched out” and looked for the Police to save him. The same thing when he was confronted by Usman and his manager Ali Abdel- Aziz at a buffet line in Vegas, when put to the task of backing up his mouth, he again looked for the safety and protection of security to fight his battles for him.
He is going to end up getting hurt by someone if he doesn’t change his ways. Both Masvidal and Poirier are the type of guys that will chin check you before you know what hit you. Ask Leon Edwards about what happens if you run your mouth about Masvidal, you receive a 3 piece and soda in a very expeditious fashion, and it doesn’t taste well.
I am not sure what is next for these three and their relationships with ATT. I do know that a feud between three of your biggest stars is not good for business. The strain on the team has got to be tough. Nobody wants to take sides, but eventually will. Dan Lambert who owns the gym and the team has been all-in on the Covington train, and that may also be an issue that hasn’t been brought to light, is a known pro-wrestling fan and has made appearances on national television with TNA. Hell, Lambert may just be the architect of the Covington heel character for all we know, it would not surprise me.
Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier, and Colby Covington, at one point all friends, teammates, and brothers in arms at ATT who once had each other’s backs is no more. The relationships are fractured beyond repair at this point, and Covington is now not just in the crosshairs of the UFC welterweight division, but also Masvidal and Poirier, who unlike Covington are more than willing to settle a beef face-to-face and rather prefer that than from behind a camera or the safety of the internet.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Family Feud, the ATT version.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.