UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya was among a trio of fighters who spoke out against Colby Covington's recent comments during UFC 253 media day Wednesday.
The former interim welterweight champion called the Black Lives Matter movement a "complete sham" while also associating it with terrorism after beating Tyron Woodley last weekend in the UFC Fight Night main event.
Woodley wore a BLM shirt to the pre-fight press conference last week and answered every question with a variation of the phrase. Covington called him a "domestic terrorist sympathizer" on social media before their fight and said afterward that the former titleholder "stands for criminals" and "hates America."
Covington also engaged in a heated discussion with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after beating Woodley and asked his former opponent if he got a call from his "little tribe" using "smoke signals." Usman was born in Nigeria.
"It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now," Adesanya said, according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "I made a joke about dropping (Yoel) Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke. And it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and digging - but I was making a joke.
"(Covington) has directly insulted my culture, my brother, and many other cultures, and no one says anything. But it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So, yeah. I don't really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw (in their title fight), so I don't really care."
Women's bantamweight Sijara Eubanks took issue with the way the media has described Covington's comments.
"Let's be real, first and foremost. It wasn't 'unfortunate.' It was flat-out racist," she said. "It was racist. It was disgusting. It was quite frankly disappointing, but at the same time, the one thing I appreciate is the UFC lets whoever say whatever. They have never muzzled us as fighters."
Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu said Covington's "extremely rude" and "racist" comments offended him.
"I'm kind of surprised he's allowed to talk freely like that," he said, according to MMA Fighting. "I guess everyone's allowed to talk freely, but I took a little bit of offense to it.
"It's crazy that it's comments like that are causing more and more divide I feel like amongst the people. That's how he gets down, but I'm not really with that, and I took offense to that for sure."
Adesanya will defend his title against Paulo Costa in the UFC 253 main event Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Eubanks and Dawodu will face Ketlen Vieira and Zubaira Tukhugov, respectively, in main-card bouts.