Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington set to renew their heated rivalry at UFC 268

At UFC 268 this weekend in New York, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend the title against No. 1 contender Colby Covington at Madison Square Garden.

By Stone Lexington

Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 • 1:35 PM ET

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Madison Square Garden - Wikimedia Commons

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and controversial contender Colby Covington will renew their heated rivalry this weekend at UFC 268 in Madison Square Garden. The winner will leave New York with the title and lay claim to being the best welterweight in the world.

 

The two fighters first met at UFC 245 in December 2019 with Usman winning the bout by fifth-round TKO. The fight was a back-and-forth war, as Usman defended the welterweight title for the first time after winning the belt from Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision earlier in the year. Since defeating Covington, Usman has defended the belt three additional times with victories over Jorge Masvidal (twice) and Gilbert Burns.

 

Meanwhile, Covington has only fought once since the loss to Usman, defeating Woodley by TKO last September. It’s a bit odd for a title challenger to get another shot at the belt with only one fight on their resume since losing to the champion, but Covington’s performance in the first bout and brash personality has thrust him back into a position as the No. 1 contender.

Covington, the man nicknamed “Chaos”, has become one of the most polarizing fighters in the UFC. He disrespects his opponents in press conferences, has no problem expressing his controversial political views and lives an ostentatious lifestyle in alluring Miami. Usman, on the other hand, seems to be Covington’s polar opposite, which is another factor that plays into their harmonious rivalry.

 

While Usman often describes how he plans to dismantle his opponents, he doesn’t come off as disrespectful to them. The Nigerian born champion’s political views are largely a mystery, and his brand is principally built on family values. To say the unapologetic Covington and the mild-mannered Usman are the antithesis of one another would be an understatement.

 

Whether onlookers agree with Covington’s tactics or not, there’s no denying that he’s an excellent promoter and supremely skilled fighter. In his MMA career, Covington has only lost two bouts in 18 professional fights with the other defeat coming to Warlley Alves in 2015 by first-round submission. Since that loss to Alves, Covington has won eight of nine fights with the only loss coming to Usman.

 

Usman has only lost once in 20 professional fights, which came in 2013 in a lower promotion. He has won all 14 of his fights in the UFC, showing that he has been virtually unbeatable at the highest level of hand-to-hand combat. In defeating fighters like Leon Edwards, Alves, Sean Strickland, Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, Woodley, Covington, Masvidal and Burns, the 34-year-old Usman has inserted his name in the conversation of being the greatest welterweight ever.

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Covington, 33 years old, has notable wins over Maia, Dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler and Woodley. A victory over Usman on Saturday, though, would be by far the biggest of his professional career. While Usman is a significant favorite to defeat Covington a second time, fight fans don’t have to wait much longer for one of the most anticipated bouts of the year.

 

 

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET

 

Women’s strawweight title bout - (c) Rose Namajunas vs. No. 1 Zhang Weili

 

Lightweight bout - No. 2 Justin Gaethje vs. No. 5 Michael Chandler

 

Featherweight bout - No. 14 Shane Burgos vs. Billy Quarantillo

 

Bantamweight bout - No. 8 Frankie Edgar vs. No. 13 Marlon Vera

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