Welterweight champion Usman (19-1 MMA, 14-0 UFC) will face Covington in the main event of UFC 268 in a rematch of their back-and-forth battle at UFC 245, where Usman stopped Covington with a late TKO.
One judge had Covington (16-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) up three rounds to one before he was stopped late in Round 5, and Usman was pushed like never before in his career. Covington was upset with the stoppage and thought some of the calls referee Marc Goddard made in the fight were questionable.
But despite campaigning for a quick rematch, Covington didn’t get his wish. Usman went on to fight Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal twice. Both Usman and his manager didn’t think Covington deserved a rematch, but eventually, the highly anticipated rematch came to fruition and the arch rivals will finally throw down again Nov. 6 – against Usman’s will, according to Covington.
“It’s been tough,” Covington told ESPN. “It wasn’t supposed to happen. They did not want it to happen. His manager, they were refusing. They were trying to find every way in the book out of fighting this rematch. They didn’t want this fight, man, and the only reason they have to take it is the UFC gave him no choice. They said, ‘Hey, you fight this fighter or we just strip you – it’s one or the other.’ You’ve got to come out and prove you’re the best in the world. There needs to be no controversies surrounding this fight, so it’s been tough.
“I had to go out and finish a former world champion in (Tyron) Woodley. He got two easy paychecks against lightweights that should have never been there. In his last fight, he’s beaten a guy ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal. I was beating that guy decades ago. That’s not an achievement. You’re proud for beating that guy? That guy is a lightweight, he shouldn’t even be up here at the top of the mountain.”
Usman has shown marked improvements in his striking under coach Trevor Wittman and shown he’s not just a wrestler by scoring back-to-back knockout wins over Burns and Masvidal.
But Covington isn’t sold and doesn’t see many advancements in Usman’s game.
“I haven’t seen anything,” Covington said. “I see the same fighter. He comes out with a heavy jab, has a big right hand. That’s kind of been the story of his career before, and that’s what he always went to in the past. So yeah, he’s knocking out lightweights, he’s knocking out guys that shouldn’t be in there with him. These are easy paychecks.”
Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington at UFC 245: Best photos
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Twitter reacts to Colby Covington’s dominant TKO of Tyron Woodley at UFC on ESPN+ 36