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SYDNEY – Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum has a main event on his hands this weekend, but everyone’s talking about an altercation he had with a guy 70 pounds below him.

Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) fights Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event on Saturday. But Wednesday, he ran into UFC welterweight Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in Sydney, and things got ugly.

In the buildup to his recent fight against Demian Maia in Brazil, Covington put himself out there as MMA’s latest infamous Brazilian insulter. After he beat Maia, his verbal assaults continued.

Werdum is Brazilian. When Covington allegedly had some insults to lob, Werdum lobbed back, both verbally … and with a boomerang. (They’re in Australia, after all.)

“The guys think you can say whatever you want, and it’s not like that,” Werdum told MMAjunkie after a Wednesday workout session for the media. “He didn’t respect Brazil his last fight. He said a lot of bad things, and it’s not good.”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Werdum thinks a lot of this trash talk culture comes from UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who has become a millionaire many, many times over in part thanks to talking the talk to promote fights.

And more power to him, Werdum thinks – but when others, like Covington, try the same approach, it’s not going over as well.

“These guys try to copy Conor McGregor,” Werdum said. “Conor McGregor did very well, did very good promotion – he’s a very rich guy now. But the other guys try to copy him, and it’s very ridiculous. I don’t like it.”

Werdum lost his heavyweight title by first-round knockout to current champion Stipe Miocic in May 2016. He rebounded that fall with a decision win in a rematch with Travis Browne. In July, he dropped a fight to Alistair Overeem, but bounced back with a 65-second armbar win over Walt Harris at UFC 216 in October.

Getting a streak going again for the first time in three years is crucial for Werdum if he wants to get back into the title picture. Having Covington serving as a distraction ahead of Tybura would not appear to be the best thing – even if Werdum is as much as a 4-1 favorite.

But he says he’s got only the fight on his mind … unless someone like Covington says something to him that requires a response. Then he’ll respond in kind.

“This is nothing,” he said. “I don’t like the guy saying a lot of bad things. But with me, it’s different. I never start saying bad things. I just stay quiet. If the guy says something, I’ll respond for sure. But my big focus is the fight.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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