Colby Covington has questioned his constitutional rights following his acrimonious split from American Top Team.
The brash UFC welterweight contender left his longtime gym following repeated conflicts with several of his teammates, including the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but insists that he was treated unfairly and that the imposition on his freedom of speech to say what he pleases about his teammates is an affront to the rights he has enshrined in the U.S. constitution.
“My brand was being held back being at American Top Team,” Covington told BJPenn.com. “I have nothing but respect for Dan Lambert. The guy’s been nothing but a mentor and a good friend, but you cross the line when you try and tell me what I can and cannot do in the professional fighting business.
“We’re getting locked in an Octagon to kill each other, take each other’s brain cells, send each other to the morgue, and you’re worried about some words that I might be saying? It sounds a little petty and a little childish, and I didn’t have time for that anymore. I got big business to take care of.
“That was completely the ending of our relationship as a team and being a part of that team anymore. You’re not going to tell me what I can and cannot do. Your team’s name is American Top Team. Just think about that for a second, American Top Team. What are our constitutional rights in America? Do we not have freedom of speech?”
To be clear, the United States constitution guarantees citizens the right to be free of persecution from the government for things that they have said, but it does not shield people from the consequences of their actions — the Covington appears to dispute this.
“It’s not fair to try and take someone’s voice away and their platform and try and tell them what they can and cannot do, especially in the fighting business. It’s already an ugly business as it is. Then to be mad about some words when we’re getting locked in a cage to kill each other in our underwear on Saturday nights, it’s just a little pathetic, and it’s not right, but I have no ill will towards it. I think Dan had to do what he had to do, and he felt that it was right to implement that policy for the team.”