Colby Covington believes yelling at a Brazilian crowd, calling them 'filthy animals', saved his UFC career.
It was on that night in front of a furiously partisan crowd in Sau Paulo three years ago that the American's new 'persona' was born and he has since become one of the most divisive, controversial and hated athletes in the United States.
He claims that the UFC were planning on severing ties with him. They found him too boring, a feeble performer outside of the cage and forgettable inside it.
Colby Covington is fast becoming one of the most hated athletes in the United States
Covington has met with President Donald Trump on many occasions and is a huge supporter
The UFC welterweight contender surrounds himself with bikini-clad women for photo shoots
So he says he was forced to play a character. One who has always walked the line between unsavoury and offensive, but has now morphed into something far more sinister.
For the most part, Covington's alter-ego as a Donald Trump-loving patriot has been laughed off and dismissed by his fellow UFC fighters, even in the most painfully fraught era in American politics.
But all that changed at the weekend. On Sunday he fought and beat Tyron Woodley, an African American former UFC welterweight champion, who is a vocal advocate of the BLM movement and answered 'Black Lives Matter' to every question at a press conference last week.
Covington lambasted him as a communist and Marxist, before describing people involved in the movement for racial justice as terrorists and criminals.
He posted a picture on his Instagram of himself smirking in a baseball cap, writing: 'The face I make when I'm ready to give a domestic terrorist sympathiser a hard lesson in American resolve.'
Covington beat Tyron Woodley at the weekend but his victory was overshadowed
Covington was criticised for being racist towards welterweight champion Kamaru Usman
And in the aftermath of Covington's win, he was interviewed by current champion Kamaru Usman, who is Nigerian-American and beat Covington, breaking his jaw, when they clashed last December.
Usman was asking about the congratulatory phone call between Covington and Trump on Sunday night in his role as ESPN analyst.
Covington retorted: 'Who did you get a call from? You get a call from, frickin', your little tribe? They give you some smoke signals for you? You're a joke . . . You're fake news.'
Incidentally, on the call itself. Covington said: 'Thank you so much Mr President, you gave me the dragon energy after shaking your hand on Sunday at your rally. It doesn't matter if King Kong was in front of me, I was not going to lose after getting to shake your hand.'
He also singled out NBA star LeBron James: 'First responders, you keep us safe, not these woke athletes.
'I'm sick of these woke athletes and these spineless cowards like LeBron James.' He later tweeted: 'LOL at the snowflakes that believe LeBron James could even last 10 seconds with me!'
Covington has created a persona where he views himself as an all-American patriot
Since then the UFC's major sponsor, Reebok, delivered this statement: 'Reebok is the uniform provider for the UFC, however we do not sponsor Colby Covington. We do not agree with the sentiments he expressed, and stand firm in our belief that Black lives matter. We stand with athletes and communities who are fighting for change.'
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya said: 'This guy 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.'
And Bantamweight Sijara Eubanks told ESPN: 'It wasn't 'unfortunate.' It was flat-out racist. It was racist. It was disgusting. It was quite frankly disappointing.'
Perhaps Adesanya's referral to 'nobody saying anything' was a thinly veiled dig at the UFC's own refusal to condemn Covington's language.
The organisation's president Dana White said: 'These guys all have their own causes, things – all their own beliefs.
The 32-year-old's words have been condemned by