Is there anything that fans in MMA love more than a true grudge match?
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor, Chuck Lidell vs Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson vs Rashad Evans. These are some of the biggest rivalries in MMA and UFC history, that all led to must-see fights during their careers.
In the welterweight division, Kamaru Usman reigns supreme. But just below him in the tiers of challengers are some big names. Arguably the two biggest are the two he’s most recently defeated, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
Covington was a nice guy back in the day, but after a brief stint in the world of professional wrestling he returned with a chip on his shoulder. He now plays the character of the villain, being disrespectful to all opponents and a lot of fans in the build up to each and every one of his fights. It works too, because people tune in to either support him or hoping that he gets beaten to a pulp.
The latter are usually disappointed though, with Covington dominating everyone in his path except for Usman to win eight of his last nine bouts.
His former training partner is the opposite to him though, with Masvidal one of the most popular fighters among the UFC roster.
‘Gamebred’ got his props late in his career, after being a professional for over 15 years. He came up in the game as a street fighter with the legendary Kimbo Slice but after taking a break from the sport he returned with a vengeance.
He brutally knocked out Darren Till in London, before scoring the fastest knockout in UFC history with his flying knee finish over arch-rival Ben Askren in just five seconds. Add to that, he took on Nate Diaz in a fight so demanded by fans that Dana White made up a title belt for the occasion just so it could headline a pay-per-view card.
Masvidal dismantled Diaz to be crowned the ‘Baddest Mother F*****’ in the company and earn his place among the top of the earners list. His momentum stalled when he was beaten by Usman at UFC 251, but he saved some face considering he took the fight on less than a week’s notice.
Since then, Covington was able to destroy former champion Tyron Woodley and the two seem to be on a war path to face each other now.
This fight has everything. Two highly-skilled fighters who were once close friends and training partners, that now want to rip each others heads off and publicly humiliate them any way they can.
Covington started the beef when in pursuit of a title shot he started trash talking against his own gym and team-mates, something the fiercely loyal Masvidal took to heart. Colby has since left American Top Team, meaning there would be no clash of interests for coaches.
A true grudge match between former friends, where the stakes are likely to be as high as a potential title shot for the winner, this is a fight that we absolutely must see in 2021.