Ahead of Saturday’s main event, not many are better placed to provide a prediction and breakdown of the contest than Usman, a fighter who’s spent nearly 50 minutes in the Octagon with Covington and over half an hour in the cage with Masvidal.
Leading into the clash between “Chaos” and “Gamebred,” many are expecting the former to boast a considerable edge in the grappling and wrestling department. But despite securing five takedowns and managing over 10 minutes of control time in his first meeting with Masvidal, Usman believes the Miami native can hold his own.
Usman: Masvidal’s Grappling Shocked Me
During a recent interview with Megan Olivi for ESPN MMA, Usman was asked whether he expects Covington to utilize an “overwhelming” grappling advantage inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” responded by suggesting Masvidal’s ability to return to his feet was surprising to him and leads him to believe any advantage in that realm for Covington won’t be substantial.
“No, I don’t think so. I think the thing that Jorge does very well is his ability to get back up,” said Usman. “And I was actually shocked in my fight with him because I am more of a control guy, and so his ability to get back up a few times let me know that this is something that he’s done for a long, long time. I think Covington understands that as well.”
With that in mind, the reigning welterweight titleholder expects Covington to plan accordingly. Rather than push for top control on the ground, Usman expects the former interim champion to employ a grueling approach that will have the aim of fatiguing Masvidal.
“I don’t think that’s Covington’s plan. I don’t think his plan is to hold him down. I think his plan is to drag him down, make him get back up, and drag him back down; make him get up and drag him back down. Eventually, wear him out,” Usman concluded.
With high praise from the 170-pound king, Masvidal will likely have the chance to prove Usman right and display his grappling this weekend when he goes face-to-face with his former friend, roommate, and teammate.
While some have branded it a classic striker vs. grappler contest, Covington’s displays on the feet against Usman and Masvidal’s ability to avoid ground control means the clash has many more dimensions to it.
Do you agree with Kamaru Usman’s take on Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal’s grappling?