Kamaru Usman has said repeatedly that he dislikes Colby Covington more than any other opponent he has ever faced. But after their 10th round in the cage together, Usman and Covington could do nothing except embrace, according to ESPN.
Usman beat Covington via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) in the main event of UFC 268 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. With a win 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 postfight interview. “I’m sure there’s going to still be some after tonight. But this guy is a tough son of a b—-. He’s tough as s—.”
The two fought at UFC 245 in December 2019 with Usman winning via fifth-round TKO in what many consider one of the best title fights in UFC history.
This one didn’t disappoint, either. Usman nearly finished Covington with huge left hands in the second round, but Covington rallied late, hurt Usman with a body kick in the fourth round and landed hard combinations in the fifth.
Usman said he tried to be more aggressive and finish Covington but had to be more tactical in his approach.
“He’s tough — he’s super tough,” Usman said. “I wanted to get crazy and get him out of there. But that’s not what the best do.”
The sellout crowd of 20,715 was engaged from the beginning of the fight, with audible chants for both men. Usman had a strong first round with his boxing. In the second, Covington clipped Usman with a left hand, then waded in — and paid for it.
Usman dropped Covington with a left hook, then dropped him again with another left when Covington got up. Usman tried to finish on the ground, but Covington survived until the bell.
Covington was surprisingly fresh in the third, peppering Usman with combinations throughout the round and a late takedown.
The fourth might have been Covington’s best round with a left body kick that hurt Usman. The fifth was very close. Covington went for a left head kick that was blocked but still did damage. Usman landed a hard right hand late.
Usman outlanded Covington 123-107 in significant strikes. Covington’s significant strikes were the second-most landed against Usman behind the 143 Covington landed at UFC 245 against Usman.
Judge Sal D’Amato gave Usman the first, second and fifth rounds, judge Dave Tirelli gave Usman the first three rounds and judge Derek Cleary gave Usman all but the fourth round.
Usman (20-1) has 15 straight wins in the UFC, the second-longest such UFC streak behind only Anderson Silva (16), who is considered one of the best of all time. The Nigeria native, who lives in Florida and trains in Colorado, was coming off a second-round knockout win over Jorge.