The UFC’s new interim welterweight champion has already gone blow for blow with many of the world’s elite fighters. Now, Colby Covington is looking to take on the toughest poker competition, too.
Covington captured the interim championship belt with a victory over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 this past weekend. That taste of glory wasn’t enough for the new champ, and afterwards he revealed his next target — the thousands of players competing in the World Series of Poker Main Event this summer.
The Oregon native plans to spend some time training in Hawaii before flying to Las Vegas in July to compete in poker’s flagship tournament, the $10,000 WSOP Main Event.
“Hopefully I make it through like day four or five so I can make it on the ESPN broadcast,” Covington told MMA News. “But I’ll definitely be representing the UFC at the World Series of Poker.”
His aspirations shouldn’t come as a surprise, as 30-year-old fighter is no stranger to the poker felt.
Pugilist’s Passion for Poker
The plunge into the poker world is more than just a one-off lark for Covington. Before ascending to UFC stardom, he was something of a regular rounder on the poker scene.
Covington has 24 cashes totaling more than $40,000 listed on Hendon Mob, stretching back to 2012. The current UFC welterweight champion is 235th on Oregon’s all-time poker money list.
His biggest score came that year at the WPT Regional Series in Coconut Creek, Florida, where he finished seventh for $9,935 in a $100 buy-in event. He has one tournament win to his name, taking down a $100 buy-in event at the Everglades Poker Open in Hollywood, Florida, in the fall of 2012.
Despite the intensive training required to take on the world’s best in the octagon, Covington has also found time to play poker in 2018. He has three cashes this year so far, including a third-place finish in a $120 buy-in event at the Lucky Hearts Open for $4,400.
While he may not be a favorite to take down the Main Event, his foray into the WSOP is far from a joke. The confident Convington says he has a true passion for poker, and once he’s conquered cards and the fighting competition, he plans to add yet another sport to his resume.
“I want to be the first two-sport world champion in poker and fighting, and eventually pro wrestling and WWE,” Covington told BJPenn.com. “I love playing Texas Hold ‘Em. I love playing tournaments and big cash games, high-stakes cash games.”
Fighting for Bracelets
There’s clearly something about the intense competition in poker that attracts some of fighting’s most notorious figures.
UFC legend and former welterweight title holder George St. Pierre played the Main Event in both 2012 and 2013, failing to make it past Day 1 on either occasion.
In 2008, Forrest Griffin made the $10,000 buy in the day after winning a brutal five-round decision against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It was his first time playing poker, and he didn’t last long in the tournament.
Former lightweight champ Chuck Lidell also played the main that year, failing to cash.
Other UFC fighters have played smaller events with mixed success. Retired Danish fighter Martin Kampmann made a good showing at Run it Up Reno in 2015, and announcer UFC Bruce Buffer has also competed in several events over the years.
However, considering his poker pedigree, Covington probably has a better shot at poker glory than any of the grapplers that came before him.
The WSOP Main Event starts on July 2.