MMA stars who play poker

Colby Covington claims he's still the best welterweight on earth despite loss at UFC 296

A host of famous UFC talent and other MMA stars – from fighters past and present, to even the organization’s head honcho has shared the poker table at a host of casinos in North America, with some of the biggest names in the sport parting with eye-watering sums in the hope of winning. 

From the likes of CEO, Dana White – most notably probably, to former interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington, catch some of the biggest starts in the sport of mixed martial arts to dabble their hand in poker games and outright tournaments. 

Dana White

So let’s start with the most high-profile – and arguably the biggest fish in the proverbial pond, UFC leader, Dana White has shared countless stories of his time playing poker games – and in recent months, has notably exposed his dealings at the tables with a host of influencers and YouTube stars in ‘Sin City’. 

“When the Palms was owned by the Maloof, I had beat them for $1,600,000,” Dana White explained. “Then, as soon as the Palms sold, the people who came in asked me to stop playing there. Listen, (Las) Vegas is all about losing, not winning, man. Then it [got] sold again, the new ownership said we want you to come back and I beat them for $1,600,000 again. Instead of just asking me to leave the way that they [prior owners] did, they gave me this. Undisputed Blackjack champion.”

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Colby Covington

Arguably the second most high-profile feature from the UFC to partake in his fair share of poker games, former interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington has taken home tournament victories, in fact.

Notably, whilst in pursuit of a title fight with former champion, Tyron Woodley during his interim title reign, Covington ‘doorstepped’ UFC boss, White at a casino in Las Vegas, urging him to book his title unification clash, ultimately to no avail.

Sidelined since last December where he suffered a one-sided unanimous decision loss to Leon Edwards in the pair’s heated grudge match, Covington won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open – coming as his first tournament win.

“It’s always big cities and bright lights whenever I fight,” Colby Covington explained. “I’m always at the top of the marquee, so, you know, when I fight next, it’ll be a big pay-per-view – it’ll be blockbuster. The biggest show that the UFC does, it’s called International Fight Week – that’s their big mega show, where they do a sporting experience and it’s like an event thing, they do together for the fans to get ‘em excited, followed by this big pay-per-view fight. I’m hoping that I fight during International Fight Week.” 

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In recent weeks, outspoken Clovis native, Covington has hit the headlines amid his profanity-laced tirade aimed at unbeaten Irish contender, Ian Garry – as well as the surging Dubliner’s wife and manager, Layla Anna-Lee – accusing the latter of infidelity on more than one occasion. 

And despite Covington’s calls for a fight with the striking sensation, Garry claims that all along, the former interim champion is the one avoiding a fight against him. 

Georges St-Pierre

One of the most recognizable fighters to ever grace the UFC, and in many people’s eyes, the greatest fighter to ever fight in mixed martial arts; former two-weight champion, Georges St-Pierre delved into the world of poker – and particularly, the World Series of Poker back in 2012 as part of a partnership with 888.

St-Pierre, a former undisputed middleweight champion and arguably the promotion’s most decorated and accomplished welterweight titleholder of all time, ended his professional fighting career back in 2017, returning with a rear-naked choke win over Michael Bisping.

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Avenging his two sole professional losses with rematch wins over fellow former welterweight champions, Matt Hughes, and Matt Serra, St-Pierre’s involvement in poker games may come as a surprise to fans – however, the Canadian has always been obsessed with the idea of sharpening his mind and tactics. 

Last December, St-Pierre was expected to make his return to combat sports competition as part of the UFC Fight Pass Invitational in a rematch against former foe and fan favourite, Nick Diaz, with the bout failing to come to fruition. 

However, one thing is for sure, don’t expect to see St-Pierre back inside the Octagon anytime soon, with the Canadian recently ruling out a comeback at next month’s UFC 300 card.

“Absolutely not,” St-Pierre explained. “I promise you, I always told myself that I will not fight in the cage after the age of 40. I’m extremely competitive and sometimes I forget that I’m 42 [years old]. And I don’t give myself enough rest and that’s why I think I partially tore my labrum, my subscap, and my rotator cuff but my shoulder is getting better and we’ll see how it goes.”