Kamaru Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) successfully defended his welterweight belt for the fifth time with a unanimous-decision victory over Colby Covington in their rematch at Madison Square Garden in New York City. ‘The Nigerian Nighmare’ cashed tickets as a -300 favorite in the UFC 268 headliner.
Usman took control early and hurt Covington badly in the second round. However, ‘Chaos’ bounced back in the third to take the round and make things interesting again. The fourth and fifth were close, with two judges giving Covington at least one of the rounds.
In the end, though, it was Usman by UD (48-47, 49-46 and 48-47) “and STILL!” According to MMADecisions, one media member had it 49-45 for Usman and another had it 49-46. Ten media members scored it 48-46 for Usman, clearly giving the champ a 10-8 in Round 2 when it appeared he might close the show early. Six had it 48-47 for Usman and three scored it a draw (47-47).
At his post-fight presser, Usman said he was ready for some time off and needed to spend it with his daughter. Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards is seeking a rematch against Usman, who defeated him by UD at UFC Orlando in December of 2015. Edwards wants Usman next after his scrap with Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal was nixed earlier this week.
Covington said he wants a grudge match with his former friend and roomate, Masvidal, next in early 2022.
In the co-main event, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas retained her women’s strawweight belt with a split-decision victory (47-48, 48-47, 49-46) over Zhang Weili. Fourteen media members — per MMADecisions — scored it 48-47 for the champ, but six had it 48-47 for Weili and one (BloodyElbow’s Sean Sheehan) had it 49-46 for the former champ. MMAJunkie’s Danny Segura scored it a 48-48 draw.
Although a rematch with Carla Esparza, who beat Namajunas via third-round submission in the inagural strawweight title fight on Dec. 12 of 2014, seems like the logical next title defense for ‘Thug,’ Dana White suggested there was another candidate to get the next crack at Namajunas at the UFC 268 post-fight presser.
In a bantamweight scrap, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera defeated former lightweight kingpin Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar with a front-kick KO similar to the one Anderson Silva used to finish Vitor Belfort at UFC 126. The KO by Vera came in Round 3.
Two judges had the bout scored 19-19 going into the third stanza, but another (Sal D’Amato) had Edgar ahead 20-18. Edgar had used his wrestling to score takedowns and keep top control in Round 1 and the early parts of Round 2, but Vera was getting the better of it when the fight was standing.
Is there anything more exciting in sports these days than Justin Gaethje fights? That’s a legit-as-hell question!
For the sixth time in his nine Octagon appearances, Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) garnered a Fight of the Night bonus in his UD victory (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Michael Chandler. In doing so, he most likely secured a title shot against the winner of the UFC 269 main event between Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira and Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier.
Gaethje earned his 10th overall fight-night bonus in nine career UFC bouts.
In the Prelims headliner, former kickboxer Alex Pereira took advantage of his promotional debut with a flying-knee KO win over Andreas Michailidis just 18 seconds into Round 2 of the Prelims headliner.
Pereira, Vera, Bobby ‘King’ Green and Chris Barnett were awarded Performance of the Night bonuses for $50,000 apiece.
**B.E.’s Bonus Octagon Nuggets**
–Green’s last 10 fights had gone the distance, but he dusted native New Yorker ‘Ragin’ Al Iaquinta with a first-round KO at the 2:25 mark. Bettors on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds cashed gorgeous +275 tickets. Green had not won by KO in eight years (to the day!):
–Teddy Atlas, the legendary boxing trainer who has become a huge UFC fan in recent years, dubbed Gaethje-Chander as ‘The Thrilla in Manila at MSG:’
–Former featherweight kingpin Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway will headline Saturday’s card by facing Yair Rodriguez. The UFC did us a favor by putting this clip together with some of the best highlights, quotes and interviews from the legendary Hawaiian. Check it out here: