UFC 268 lived up to it’s billing as one of the best fight cards of the year at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, with Kamaru Usman cementing himself as the welterweight G.O.A.T.
It was a night headlined by two big rematches, as Usman defended his welterweight title against long-time rival Colby Covington for a second time while Rose Namajunas defended her strawweight title against the woman she won it from at UFC 261 in Weili Zhang.
But it was Usman who claimed the headlines, with another masterful performance claiming him a 19th straight career win and making him 15-0 in the UFC.
Usman and Covington started at a slower pace than their initial bout, which is regarded as one of the best fights in modern history in the UFC. But as Usman used his brilliant new jab once more, he took over and in the second round was able to land two knockdowns.
Covington rallied and was able to win rounds though, rocking Usman with some hard left hands and even securing the first takedown against the champion in his UFC career (unofficially).
But by the end of the fifth round when the judge’s scores were read out, there wasn’t much doubt about where the title would be going and that was back home with Usman.
It means he’s now cleared the division out throughout his career, with all but Edwards coming in a title fight situation too. His wrestling has been proven to be the best in the division, possibly the company, and now his striking is among the most dangerous too.
While Georges St-Pierre will always leave a question mark above it, Usman for many is now the greatest welterweight of all-time. He can win a fight in any way, has no weaknesses and has no equal any more. So much so that if they fought each other, I think Usman would be the favourite now.
As for Namajunas, she proved once again that she is one of the greatest strawweight fighters in history too, with a brilliant win over Weili Zhang via split decision.
Her striking was crisp and while Zhang looked to ensure her physicality was used as much as possible, Namajunas used her technique to counter it and secure the victory over her closest rival for the title for a second time.
The win closes that chapter on her career, but Namajunas can now look forward to re-opening an older chapter when she’ll likely take on the inaugural champion of the division in Carla Esparza.
The two fought on The Ultimate Fighter finale to crown the champ and Esparza claimed a third-round submission on the night. She has since fought her way back to contention after losing the belt and is set to be the next challenger.
Namajunas has already welcomed the bout, but what about for Zhang? The Chinese superstar must head back to the drawing board after consecutive losses, but she could find herself back in the running with a big win.
Marina Rodriguez recently entered herself into the conversation, so a fight between the two would be absolutely amazing to try move the division forward while there is always the possibility of a rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk too.
UFC 268 delivered, now the UFC must deliver with the right match-making decisions in the strawweight division going forward.