Colby Covington thinks parting ways with American Top Team was the best move to make for all parties.
A member of the team since 2001, Covington (15-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC) decided it was finally time to leave the gym after numerous rifts with teammates started to cause tension at the gym for owner Dan Lambert, who was forced to intervene.
Covington was coming in at different times than a lot of the gym’s main team members, such as Jorge Masvidal and Dustin Poirier, to avoid potential run-ins, which made the training situation far from ideal.
So Covington said he wanted to relieve Lambert, who he said he still has a good relationship with, from all the stress and drama that continued to unfold.
“It just became too drama-filled and too negative energy-filled,” Covington told MMA Junkie. “Every time I was walking in for training camps, I could feel the jealousy. I could feel the hate and that type of negative energy. It wears you down and you can’t truly be at your best when you’re dealing with that day in and day out.
“This is more me having respect for Dan Lambert. I don’t want to keep putting him in this drama-filled situation where he has to deal with fighters coming to him every day crying to him. I’m not crying to him. I have no feelings. I’m a fighter. You want to say some words? Let’s fight. Let’s get in the cage and get locked up and fight and we can settle our differences. But I’m not a crybaby – little complaints department where I’m going to Dan Lambert, ‘Oh, Dan, please kick Colby out of the team. Protect our precious little feelings.’ So I feel like this is the best step for me just to not even make him make that decision and just go on my own way.”
Covington may have left, but he still plans on staying in South Florida. So if anyone has an issue with him, Covington said they can just come and see him.
“Joanna Jedrzejczyk, ‘Doofus’ Dustin Poirier and ‘Street Judas’ (Jorge) Masvidal – they’re crying to (Lambert) like babies every day, creating conflict in the gym in the middle of pro fighters’ training sessions, yelling at me, screaming, oh this and that, ‘Get in the way, coaches,’ just because they’re looking for attention, just because they want people to know who they are, but not really going to do it.
“If they wanted to do something, they would have came up to me and did something. But they don’t want to do something. They just want to cry about it. They don’t want to fight me. If they wanted to fight me, then they’ve got no excuse now because I’m ‘Colby Covington Inc.,’ so you can direct your complaints and feelings to me.”
Lambert even implemented a no trash talking rule, which Covington initially abided by when he issued an out-of-character public apology to Poirier in respect to his mentor.
But now that he’s left the gym, the gloves are off.
“I already started to feel the heat and the pressure and a gym owner trying to breathe down my neck, telling me what I can and can’t do and try to take away my freedom,” Covington said. “No one’s going to take away my freedom. You haven’t seen the best Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington, and I’m not talking about just in the fighting world. I’m about to turn it up to level 10. You thought I was brutally honest before? Now I’m going to start being brutally honest, because I don’t have to worry about how people are going to take it or what my manager is going to to think.
“I have some investors. We’re working on getting a gym together. But in the meantime, I’ve put great coaches together and some good training partners and those will be unveiled at a later date.”