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UFC 235: Ben Askren had backstage beef with Kamaru Usman — and Colby Covington should be worried

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UFC 235: Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ben Askren is to Tyron Woodley what Cain Velasquez is to Daniel Cormier; meaning, there’s no way “Funky” is ever going to fight for the UFC welterweight title so long as “The Chosen One,” his longtime friend and training partner, is wearing the strap.

But there’s a chance Kamaru Usman could capture the crown when he battles Woodley in the upcoming UFC 235 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, scheduled for Sat., March 2, 2019 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The same event where Askren makes his Octagon debut against Robbie Lawler.

If Usman and Askren prevail, there’s a strong probability the promotion will pair them off for a late-summer showdown. But it doesn’t sound like the outspoken Olympian is taking any chances and has already started to lay the groundwork for their future feud.

“Marty tried attacking me 20 minutes ago,” Askren said at the UFC 235 press conference (watch it). “I knew this dude, we trained together at the Olympic training center. He was ‘Marty’ then. I think he’s confused on what we do. We don’t play basketball or wrestling, we get in the cage and fight each other. So threatening me backstage is what I volunteered for. I volunteered for that.”

Usman is no stranger to backstage beefs, having shut down top-ranked contender, Colby Covington, when they came face-to-face last April (watch the video here). Not surprisingly, the “Nigerian Nightmare” has a much different take regarding their latest encounter.

“Threatened him? See, that’s different,” Usman fired back. “It’s not threatened. There’s no threats. Why do I need to threaten somebody for? My thing is, if you’re going to talk online, if you’re going to come at me with a certain energy, when you see me on-site, keep that certain energy. I’m fighting for the UFC welterweight title and on March 2nd, I will be the new welterweight champion. At that point, you can come talk to me.”

That would be the worst possible scenario for Covington, who was expected to fight for the 170-pound belt last fall, but instead took some time off to address his lingering injuries. Since then, the promotion has been non-committal on awarding him a second crack at the crown.

And “Chaos” plans to remain sidelined until he gets what he believes is rightfully his.

“Colby now is going to have to fight again and earn the spot to get back,” White said during a Facebook Live chat with the Las Vegas Review-Journal following the UFC 235 press conference (via MMA Junkie).

Covington may have earned his place atop the welterweight division, but he’s yet to prove himself as a PPV draw, so UFC can do without him — so long as there are plenty of viable options at 170 pounds.

With Askren behind the mic, that certainly appears to be the case.