Colby Covington can still remember when he decided a career in mixed martial arts was for him.
Covington, a former standout wrestler at Oregon State University, placing fifth his senior year at the NCAA Championships, recently signed his first fight contract with the UFC. He will make his debut at UFC Fight Night 48 from Macau this August.
In 2006, Covington (5-0) signed with Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa after a standout career in Oregon. There, he roomed with two future MMA champions: current UFC light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones and the first-ever Bellator featherweight champion, Joe Soto.
“I really fell in love with MMA in high school when I saw the upperclassmen getting into it,” said Covington, during a recent interview with FightLine. “Then when I went to junior college and lived with Jon and Joe, we would always mess around trying different moves out. I knew that’s what I wanted to commit to full-time after college and I didn’t want to work a desk job.”
Covington was a state champion his senior season of high school, winning 118 matches over four years. He became the first Iowa Central wrestler to go undefeated, winning a national title before heading off to join the University of Iowa.
After one season as a Hawkeye, Covington returned home to Oregon and became a Beaver. He went 40-7 as a junior, earning the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. Covington followed that up with a fifth place showing his senior year at nationals before joining the MMA ranks.
“I just love to compete,” he said. “I think seeing the Randy Coutures and Chael Sonnens of the wresting world have so much success in MMA – guys who I know from my backyard of Oregon – really inspired me and made me believe I could do it.”
Covington, who was unable to announce his opponent yet for his UFC debut, trains out of American Top Team in Florida, working with the likes of Robbie Lawler, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Coy. He is coached by Ricardo Liborio, Mike Rodriguez, Shaun Dillon and Mike Brown.
After such a standout college career and a strong start to his MMA run, Covington admitted there were “talks here and there” of signing as a replacement for a fight in the UFC.
“I just stayed patient and ready for any opportunity that presented itself,” he said, “because I couldn’t get distracted from my ultimate goal, and to accomplish that, I have to be better every day and keep evolving.”
Covington is not only excited to get the chance to fulfill his dream, but compete overseas because “I love to travel and see new sights. I have heard nothing but great things about Macau and I look forward to putting on a show and seeing how they embrace it.”
As for that actual moment he steps inside the cage for the UFC, he’s also thought that through already.
“It’s going to definitely give me goosebumps hearing my name in the Octagon, but my whole life has been working for this moment and I plan on seizing it,” he said. “I don’t think it will set in until I’m in the Octagon getting ready for battle, but I can’t stop smiling knowing that I’m exactly where I should be.”
The UFC Fight Night 48 card currently features a main event between Michael Bisping and Cung Le, along with Tyron Woodley vs. Dong Hyun Kim.