“Those gambling debts might have caught up to him,” Usman said to TMZ Sports. “You never know the backstory of what’s going on. Debts might have caught up to him. He hasn’t fought for a long time, trying to sit out and be a pest, not just to me but to Woodley at some point and also to Dana White at some point. So you sat out for a long time and now you’re kind of reaping what you sow. At the end of the day, this is not me saying ‘Oh, I don’t want to fight him.’ I definitely want to fight him. There’s no one - and people might say, ‘Oh, you’re ducking Colby Covington,’ his three fans who continuously try to pester me everyday - there’s no one right now I would love to punch more or hurt more than him. Him or Ben Askren. Either one. I don’t really care. Doesn’t matter. But for him to take that, it just goes to show you who is in power. It’s not him. It’s not me [either]. I mean, I have a little say so but there’s a bigger machine that controls everything.”
Covington’s manager in Dan Lambert has stated that the UFC wanted to put the bout with Lawler together, which is how the UFC Newark main event came to be.
Usman would like to finally get his hands on Covington, but wouldn’t mind fighting Ben Askren as well.
“I just feel like the time is right, I need to put my hands on Covington,” Usman said. “I’ve got to get that one out of the way but oh man, Ben Askren’s next. He’s the representative of this new age society where trolls and these guys that probably could never touch you or do anything to you, feel like because they have a platform on the internet, I’m just gonna talk as reckless as possible. So I kinda need to humble him up a little bit but it doesn’t matter. I just want to fight, keep doing what I love, get back to competing. So it doesn’t matter, either one of them can get it.”
UFC Fight Night Newark takes place on Saturday, August 3 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey with Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on ESPN.