Kamaru Usman (20-1) earned a unanimous decision victory over Colby Covington (16-3) to retain his welterweight title on Saturday night at UFC 268 from Madison Square Garden in New York.
The heated rivalry between Usman and Covington picked up right where it left off in the first round. Covington was much more reserved with his striking, attempting a takedown early on, which Usman rolled through and maintained control. Back on their feet, Usman was patient waiting for his shots. Covington landed a stiff left hand, then Usman slipped a right and earned a takedown. Covington quickly escaped to his feet, where the chess match continued. Usman opened a cut under Covington’s right eye with an errant headbutt, then continued to pepper away at that cut with stiff jabs to close the round.
In the second, Usman set up his shot with feints, then walked the challenger down with his heavy jab. Covington began to chip away with little leg kicks, then tried to attack with aggressive shots up top. Usman was patient, looking for his openings and dropping combinations to the body, then head. Usman stuffed another takedown attempt, continued to walk down Covington, and hurt Covington badly with a short left hook, sending him to the ground. He couldn’t end the fight, though, as the challenger scrambled to safety as the round ended.
In the third, Usman continued where he left off with a patient, methodical approach. Covington strung together a nice combination, but Usman didn’t deviate from his gameplan. Covington yet again tried a takedown and Usman stuffed it. Back on their feet, Covington began to find his confidence, with a handful of combinations up top as he blitzed forward. But Usman was unfazed as he stood and threw with the challenger.
Covington picked up the pace in the fourth, jabbing away at Usman and beginning to find his range with a handful of shots. Usman and Covington exchanged big shots in the middle of the Octagon before the challenger landed a big body shot. Covington stung Usman with another big shot, but the champ continued to fight him off with his own onslaught of shots. At the end of the round, Covington appeared to have hurt Usman before the bell rung.
In the final round, Usman found the jab again and stung Covington twice. Covington responded with a massive uppercut and looked to have hurt Usman, then tried to drop for a takedown. Usman stuffed him again, then went back to the jab on his feet. Through the final minute, Usman and Covington continued trading shots through the final buzzer.
Since getting knocked out in his first tilt with Usman, Covington earned his way back into a title shot with dominant knockout victory over Tyron Woodley before taking another shot at Usman.
After dispatching Covington in 2019, Usman took a decision victory over Jorge Masvidal, knocked out Gilbert Burns, then knocked out Masvidal in their return bout just a year later. In his first fight with Covington, Usman accomplished his favorite fight to date when he broke Covington’s jaw in a back-and-forth affair that ended with a fifth-round knockout victory for the champ.