The most stacked card of the year from top to bottom didn’t fail to deliver as we saw 10 finishes and a competitive draw from 14 fights, including the main event between Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley.
Despite promising to let his hands go and knock Covington out, it was more of the same from Woodley in this bout as he was dominated for four rounds before succumbing to a rib injury in the fifth round and being beaten via TKO. While a finish wasn’t on the cards prior to the injury, the result was never in doubt. Colby outmuscled, outworked and out-struck his long-time rival throughout the fight to earn a dominant win over another top name for his resume.
As soon as the referee waved the fight off, with Woodley still on the ground writhing in agony, Colby immediately went to a camera and screamed profanities and threats towards both Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal.
The rivalry between Colby and the rest of the division is well documented, but with Usman and Masvidal it’s personal. Usman was of course the only man to beat him in the UFC, with a fifth-round TKO win in December 2019 in their undisputed title fight which left Covington with a broken jaw. Masvidal and Covington were actually team-mates and friends up until recently, when Colby spoke out against the gym and began trashing Masvidal publicly.
But now a fight against either is possible, although the UFC have already got plans in mind for both opponents. Kamaru Usman is scheduled to fight Gilbert Burns in their re-arranged title fight in December, while the UFC had planned for Masvidal to fight Nate Diaz in a rematch for the BMF title in January.
With both of his preferred opponents otherwise engaged, there are calls for him to take the fight against Leon Edwards. The UK fighter is unbeaten in eight fights and was scheduled to fight Tyron Woodley back in March before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to be cancelled. Since then he has been training and trying to get a fight with anyone that will listen in the Top 5, but has so far been ignored. This could prove to be the perfect opportunity for both men to cement themselves as next up in the title picture.
Edwards started the war on Twitter with a statement after the fight calling Colby out, but Colby hasn’t responded publicly since. Prior to the fight though, Colby answered a question about a potential fight against ‘Rocky’ with a simple one word answer – “Who?”
Dana White said after the fight that there are plenty of options for Covington after his win and they would offer the fight to Masvidal, but it’s too soon to know for sure what is next. A fight between Covington and any of the three possible opponents would surely have all eyes on it and it keeps the division moving forward in the right way.
As for Woodley, it’s time for him to think about walking away. As said prior to the fight, he needed to win to ensure his legacy remained untarnished and after another crushing defeat he’s now in limbo in the division anyway. Having lost 14 consecutive rounds across three fights before then being finished in the 15th. He’s no longer an appealing name to the top of the division after three straight losses, while judging from his own comments he doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper to the new guys making their way up the rankings. UFC President Dana White agreed too, stating in the post-fight presser that he’s come to the end of the road.
Another man who White said he thought needed to have a conversation about the end of his career with was Donald Cerrone. ‘Cowboy’ took on Niko Price in his 53rd professional bout but the fight ended in the first draw of his career, after Price was deducted a point in the first round for two eye pokes. Following the bout ‘Cowboy’ said it should count as a loss because of the point deduction. Taking that into account, that makes it five straight losses for Cerrone. At 37 years old and with so much mileage on his clock, it’s surely time to consider slowing down and potentially stopping.
Cerrone said following the fight that he was going to take the rest of the year off to spend time with his family and new born child and I sincerely hope that it makes him realise that he needs to hang up the gloves. We all know he has no intention of doing so, but he’s in a similar spot to Woodley. He’s no longer in the title picture, he’s no longer seen as a viable opponent for anyone in the upper rankings and he doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper to the up and comers.
The UFC is on the verge of losing two big names at welterweight due to age but they have the opportunity to keep the division burning with some super fights over the next few months.