UFC: ATT Introduces ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ On Trash Talking
Earlier this week, Colby Covington hit out at his American Top Team teammate Joanna Jedrzejczyk, saying, “She used to be the boogie woman, now she’s the boobie woman”. But that could be the last time we hear ‘Chaos’ trash talk one of his ATT teammates, after ATT owner Dan Lambert confirmed that he has introduced a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on trash talking in the gym.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Lambert said that the trash talking had got out of hand and felt like he had to do something about it.
”It’s gotten personal, and I think I was wrong. I think I made a mistake. I think I should have nipped it in the bud, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s trickled down where it affects coaches, it affects training partners, it affects vibes at the gym, and as a result, we’ve adjusted and come up with a new policy.
”Unless you have a bout agreement to fight someone, in which case there obviously needs to be some promotion, there’s a gag order on talking about people at the gym. If that’s something a fighter chooses they need to do, then they have to go train somewhere else.”
As well as hitting out at Jedrzejcyzk this week, Covington also publicly apologised to Dustin Poirier, after he said he broke his promise to Lambert.
“I want to apologise to my teammate, Dustin Poirier. I broke a promise to my agent, Dan Lambert. And I really do feel bad, and I feel ashamed. Yesterday I was asked a question by Ariel Helwani about Dustin, my teammate, and I kind of lost my cool. I was too busy spitting fire on the world and I was so hyped up about the Woodley fight that I kind of went off on Dustin. I just want to say that I’m sorry, Dustin. You’re still my friend, we can be friends. I’m sorry about hurting your feelings and saying some words in the past that might have hurt your feelings, and you know, business goes back to usual at American Top Team.”
Lambert himself said that he isn’t sure if it was Covington trash talking Jedrzejcyzk or breaking his truce with Poirier, that made him decide to introduce the new policy.
”I don’t know if it was this last round of talk where Colby came out and kind of violated a truce I had between him and Poirier, or some of the talk between him and Joanna. It may be just the big scheme of things, dealing with some of the other problems that affect our sport and everybody’s lives; I see how petty some of this s*** is, and why the f*** am I dealing with it and [have] allowed it to become an attraction?
”I think part of it just might be that I’m such a pro wrestling nerd; I kind of like the promotional side of it and the trash talk. It’s on me. I f***ed that part up. I should never have let it get to that point. It’s my job to stop s*** like that from happening and causing distractions in the gym. I think I made a mistake on that one, so live and learn.”
Lambert recalls the conversation he had with the gym after Covington infamously called out the whole of Brazil back in 2017.
”I basically handled it by bringing everybody in the gym together and saying, look, this happened. This is the way Colby’s choosing to promote himself – it happened outside the the gym. Brazilians might think he’s a f***ing asshole. You both might be right, you both might be wrong. Not my problem. In this gym, you’re all ATT. If you have a problem in the gym, we deal with it. Outside the gym, that’s your problem.”
”I thought that was the proper approach at the time, and in retrospect, I see where it’s gone.”
Since the trash talking Covington was born in 2017, bad blood has started to spill over into the gym. Noticeably with his former best friend, Jorge Masvidal. With conflict growing between Colby and several of his teammates at ATT, Lambert has decided that a ‘zero tolerance policy’ is the only option now.
”I don’t think there are options – it’s an absolute zero tolerance policy. If you do it and you break it, go somewhere else. People come, people go – no individual is bigger than the team, and the fact of the matter is, the team’s going to be here 30 years from now, still doing the same thing when certain individuals are long gone. We’re going to set up something that’s best for the environment in the gym and for the people in the gym today and tomorrow.”
With a zero tolerance policy in place, Lambert believes that it will leave no interpretation for what the fighters in the gym can or can’t get away with.
“There’s no conversation to be had with anybody now as far as what’s tolerated and what’s not tolerated. That’s another part of reason for having the policy in the first place. I don’t want guys having to look over their shoulder at the gym and worry about seeing this guy, and this guy said this about me, and I’ve got people on Instagram blowing me up every time this guy says something and I need to go and respond to this guy, or I’m going to look like I’m weak. I’ve never really subscribed to the idea that it’s going to cause fights in the gym, because I think everybody’s respected our gym, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of setting that up from the beginning: respect the gym.
”I just think I underestimated the trickle-down effect of what stuff outside the gym does to people in how they feel and the pressure that they feel from others. I think it will help easing tensions at the gym between individuals, but I’m not thinking I need to get security at the gym, or have people stand between these two guys. You work here. It’s a place of business. Come and do your business. I’m not asking anyone to train with somebody they don’t like. This gym’s 40,000 square feet. If you don’t like someone, f***ing walk down a different hallway.”
Thinking of Covington, Lambert doesn’t see a problem. For if he wants to trash talk, there are plenty of fighters he can still throw shade at that aren’t training at ATT.
”If you want to relate it directly to Colby, when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your mom tells you there are plenty of other fish in the sea. There’s plenty of people that Colby can talk s*** with that aren’t in our gym. I’m not really worried about that.”
Do you think Colby Covington will be able to stick to Dan Lambert’s ‘zero tolerance policy’?