Usman, who is widely regarded to be high up in the 170-pound GOAT conversation, has built a dominant reign in the welterweight division. Since dethroning Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in 2019, “The Nigerian Nightmare” has fought of the challenges of Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Gilbert Burns.
While many had previously suggested his style lacked entertainment, Usman proved his doubters wrong in his second victory over “Gamebred” at UFC 261 this year. In the second round, Usman brutally knocked Masvidal out in front of a sold-out VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena crowd.
Having beaten the majority of top contenders, and with the UFC seemingly hell-bent on preventing Leon Edwards from competing for gold, Usman is set for another rematch next month. At UFC 268, which will signal the promotion’s return to the prestigious Madison Square Garden, the champ will look to defend his title against Covington for the second time. While Usman has defended his belt three times since their first meeting, “Chaos” has recorded just one win across the same period.
Despite many, including Kamaru Usman, claiming Covington hadn’t done enough to deserve a second shot at the welterweight throne, the division’s kingpin has acknowledged the #1-ranked contender’s abilities inside the Octagon.
After a defeat to Warlley Alves in 2015, Covington built a seven-fight win streak on his way to his 2019 title opportunity. The streak included victories over Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, which saw him claim interim gold, and Robbie Lawler. Despite not boasting a triumph over a single man in the current 170-pound rankings, Usman believes Covington has done enough to earn a spot in the top 15 greatest welterweights of all time.
“He’s definitely up there. You know, I’m no hater. I give props where props is due,” Usman said in an interview with Helen Yee. “I think, probably, Colby is… I would put him in the top 15 welterweights of all time, as far as fighter-wise, and skill-wise, and the way that he fights. You might not like him personally, which I really don’t, but as far as skill-wise, I know he’s a good fighter, a very, very good fighter.”
The UFC’s #1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter added that he enjoyed facing Covington two years ago. He’s hoping for another “fun fight” when they run it back next month. However, if “Chaos” isn’t at his best, the champ believes he’ll secure an early finish come November 6.
“The first fight, I actually had fun in that fight. That was a fight where I was having fun so much that I actually forgot I was in a fight… I want a fun fight [at UFC 268]. I know that I can’t fight like that [UFC 245] every fight because that’s not good for my career, but we’ll see what he brings. If he brings his best A-game, then it’s gonna be a fun fight. If he doesn’t, then I think it’ll probably be a short night for him.”
Usman and Covington first clashed at UFC 245 in December 2019. In what was the toughest challenge to his welterweight throne to date, Usman was taken to the fifth round by the former interim titleholder. After four competitive frames, “The Nigerian Nightmare” wasn’t prepared to let the fight go to the judges’ scorecards. With less than a minute remaining, he finished Covington via TKO.
Should he beat the 33-year-old again, the question turns to who his next challenger will be. While Leon Edwards is seemingly disregarding Dana White‘s advice to remain active, Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns continue to fire callouts on social media. With no contender making themselves stand out from the rest, Usman recently suggested he might have to challenge boxing great Canelo Álvarez in a P4P crossover showdown.
Before turning his attention to a clash in the squared circle with the Mexican, the welterweight champ will first have to get the better of Covington in the UFC 268 main event.
Who do you think will walk out of Madison Square Garden on November 6 as the UFC Welterweight Champion, Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington?