UFC 272 is upon us and we’re set for one of the most highly anticipated main events in recent memory between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
Once best friends and training partners, the two welterweights are now sworn enemies with a very personal rivalry with bragging rights up for grabs.
But while the fans are hyped for two men that hate each other about to go head-to-head in a big scrap, are we expecting too much from this bout in terms of competitiveness?
Of Kamaru Usman’s five title defences in the UFC, four of them have come against these two fighters.
He knocked them both out once each and took them to a unanimous decision win in the other fight to assert himself as the best in the world, while these two compete for the next best – if we’re not including Leon Edwards.
But when you look at both of their skillsets and performances over their careers, it’s hard to see this fight being competitive outside of the fact that it’s personal.
Covington is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC with the nickname ‘Cardio King’ given to him by Masvidal because of the way he weaponises his fantastic conditioning.
He was brought in to American Top Team way back when to help the team improve their wrestling skills and while he was there he developed the striking skills to mix in and make him a world championship calibre fighter.
Masvidal’s star began to shine brightest after he returned from a sabbatical and knocked out Darren Till in London. That was followed by a backstage brawl, where the term ‘three piece and a soda’ was coined.
He then earned a record-breaking five-second knockout over Ben Askren to further see his star shine, and then a dominant win over Nate Diaz at UFC 242 made his status as a needle mover official.
But his skillset hasn’t changed all that much over the years. He is a brawler with excellent boxing and a vicious body kick, with decent defensive wrestling and grappling skills in his pocket too.
But despite his reputation for being a knockout artist, he has 16 KO’s in 35 career wins which is hardly the most emphatic record around.
Covington has proven against the likes of Robbie Lawler and Usman in the past that he can take a shot. Usman broke his jaw in the third round of their first fight, yet he battled through until the final minute of the final round until it became too much.
But if he can withstand that, then it’s hard to imagine him losing this fight to Masvidal.
He’s the far better wrestler, he can take Masvidal’s best shots, he can push the pace and he’s got a youth advantage too.
There is always the chance that Masvidal lands clean and stiffens him with a big right hand or a body shot, but it does seem like a puncher’s chance at this point.
Most fans want Masvidal to win simply because it will be violent and Covington is a bit of a prat, but if they were honest with themselves this probably won’t go that way.
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