NEW YORK – Kamaru Usman has repeatedly said that he doesn’t like Colby Covington more than any other opponent he’s faced. But after their 10th round in the cage together, Usman and Covington couldn’t do anything but hug.
Usman defeated Covington by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) in the main event of UFC 268 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. With a victory in their rematch, Usman retained the UFC welterweight title.
“There was a lot of trash talk, a lot of bad blood,” Usman said in his post-fight interview. “I’m sure there will be more after tonight. But this guy is a son of —- tough. He’s tough.”
The two fought at UFC 245 in December 2019 with Usman winning by fifth round TKO in what is considered one of the best championship fights in UFC history. This one did not disappoint either. Usman nearly wiped out Covington with huge left-handers in the second round, but Covington came back late, hurt Usman with a body kick in the fourth round and hit some tough combinations in the fifth.
Usman said he tried to be more aggressive and finish off Covington, but he had to be more tactical in his approach.
“It’s tough, it’s super tough,” Usman said. “I wanted to get him out of there. But that’s not what the best of them do.”
ESPN has Usman number one on its pound-for-pound list of the best MMA fighters. At welterweight, Usman is No. 1 and Covington is No. 3.
Usman (20-1) has 15 consecutive UFC wins, the UFC’s second-longest streak behind Anderson Silva (16), who is considered one of the best of all time. Usman was coming off a second-round knockout victory over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in April. The 34-year-old Usman has five title defenses and is chasing the welterweight record of nine set by Georges St-Pierre.
Covington (16-3) has won eight of his last 10 fights, and the only losses during that span were to Usman. Covington, 34, is the former interim UFC welterweight champion.
“Love me or hate me, I’m just getting started,” Covington said. “You haven’t seen the best of Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington yet.”
Despite some of the rude things Covington said prior to this fight, including allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs and comments about Usman’s father, who served time in jail, Usman said he had no choice. to give credit to his rival.
“When you share an octagon with someone that tough, you can’t help it,” Usman said. “That respect is going to come.”