In the UFC 245 main event, Usman defended his title for the first time, having dominantly dethroned Tyron Woodley earlier in 2019. In his way of adding another achievement to his blossoming legacy was Covington, a former interim titleholder who had won seven straight prior to his first undisputed championship opportunity.
When the pair threw down at the Las Vegas-held pay-per-view, fireworks ensued. In a memorable war, both men left everything inside the cage.
After four rounds of action, many had the pair level on the scorecards leading into a crucial fifth frame. In the end, it was “The Nigerian Nightmare” who proved his championship mettle, finishing “Chaos” with less than a minute of the headline bout remaining.
While the triumph marked the first defense of his welterweight reign, Usman believes it represented so much more.
Usman: Covington Win Proved I Can Do Anything
Since his UFC 245 success, Usman has gone on to defend the 170-pound gold a further four times, twice against Jorge Masvidal, once against Gilbert Burns, and, most recently, in a rematch against Covington last November.
During a recent appearance on MMA Junkie Radio, the welterweight king discussed his ongoing stint with the belt. When asked which of the rubies on his belt meant the most, Usman identified his 2019 FOTY contender with Covington as one that was “monumental” for his career.
“I have some important (rubies) on there (the title). Of course, the first one is tough, the first one is big, being able to actually get this belt and call yourself a champion,” said Usman. “That was important to me, that was very, very big. How do you top that? You go and fight Colby Covington. That first fight was very—was monumental for me.
“It allowed me to understand something about myself. I wasn’t willing to fold. I wasn’t willing to break, under any circumstances, even the worst circumstances,” noted Usman. “And that’s what that fight taught me. Because anyone and everyone who watches that fight (saw that) I got hit. I took some shots. I’ve never been hit that much in my career, ever. I took some shots in that fight and I didn’t go away. I stood there and I said I was going to accomplish this. I was gonna beat this guy.”
For Usman, the fact he was able to push through adversity in his very first defense proved he could do anything moving forward. Given his recent results, that sentiment is certainly hard to argue with.
“Being able to do that, it just let me know, ‘You can do anything. You literally can do anything, anything at all.’ So, nothing is too great. No vision, no goal is too great for me to achieve at this moment, because of that,” concluded Usman.
With his ongoing dominance atop the welterweight mountain, Usman has certainly entered the divisional GOAT conversation, even if he is yet to firmly surpass the legacy of Georges St-Pierre.
Should “The Nigerian Nightmare” continue to push away challengers, including the likes of Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev, the debate will become a lot more interesting.
Was Kamaru Usman’s first victory over Colby Covington the best of his career to date?