Tag Archives: Colby Covington

UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal – Main card predictions

A super highly anticipated grudge match main event at UFC 272 is finally upon us as Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will clash in the welterweight division.

‘Chaos’ and ‘Gamebred’ will finally settle their very personal differences in the octagon after their friendship went sour several years ago, but while fans are hoping for a scrap it could actually be a bit of a mistmatch.

We’ll also see a five-round co-main event that was put together on short-notice as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Renato Moicano at a 160-pound catchweight.

The last time we made picks was at UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill a couple of weeks ago and we did pretty well, going 9/12 with three perfect picks to move to 548/852 (64.32%) with 234 perfect picks (42.7%).

Check out our full record for our predictions to date here.

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims, and then completing our prelims picks here, lets move on to the main card.


Serghei Spivac (13-3) vs Greg Hardy (7-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A big heavyweight fight that got delayed a few months from UFC 270 and placed at the start of this main card. Spivac saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Tom Aspinall most recently at UFC Vegas 36, while Hardy has suffered consecutive KO defeats to Marcin Tybura at UFC Vegas 17 and then Tai Tuivasa at UFC 264 most recently.

Spivac is a fighter who looks to chain together his takedowns and uses his wrestling to get the fight to the ground and use vicious ground and pound. Hardy is a powerhouse who just brawls, but has been trying to use his kicks more as fights have gone on and his career has developed. Unfortunately for him though, his ground game is non-existent and if he ends up on his back then this fight is as good as over.

His takedown defence has been pretty good so far considering his short amount of time in the sport, but Spivac is one of the better wrestlers in the division. So long as he doesn’t get blitzed with a big shot early on, the fight begins to lean into his favour the longer it goes and eventually he will secure a takedown and then it’s a matter of when not if he gets the finish.
PICK – Serghei Spivac via Submission, Round 2

Kevin Holland (21-7) vs Alex Oliveira (22-11-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A really intriguing fight for the 2020 Fighter of the Year winner as he finally makes the move into a new weight class. Holland got defeated by Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22 and Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 23 in short succession, before a no-contest against Kyle Daukaus following a clash of heads means he’s three fights without a win. ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira has lost his last three in a row, with submissions against Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 254, Randy Brown at UFC 261 and then a decision against Niko Price at UFC Vegas 38.

Holland is an excellent kickboxer with some solid grappling skills too, but his wrestling defence has let him down in fights against dominant wrestlers. Oliveira is not that, although his jiu-jitsu skills are great and he has decent power in his hands. Holland will look to stay away from the body lock of Oliveira, using his range to land kicks and long, straight strikes and he absolutely has the power to put people out in this division.

Oliveira is good and is definitely a threat in some situations, but this seems like Holland’s fight to lose. He is the bigger fighter, the more powerful striker and has a huge speed advantage. I expect Oliveira to make a go of it early on, but Holland will land big later in the first round and claim an impressive finish to get his career back on track.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 1

Edson Barboza (22-10) vs Bryce Mitchell (14-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

This is a really exciting featherweight fight between two guys with title aspirations in their sights. Barboza saw a two-fight win streak ended when Giga Chikadze blitzed him in the main event at UFC Vegas 35, while Mitchell is undefeated in his professional career officially although he did get beaten on TUF by Brad Katona. His most recent win came via unanimous decision over Andre Fili at UFC Vegas 12.

This is as big a striker vs grappler fight as you will see in the UFC at the top level for a while. Barboza is a skillful striker who uses hard leg kicks, spinning techniques and brilliant boxing skills too, while Mitchell is all about securing a takedown and then wrapping you up in submissions. His striking isn’t horrendous, but it’s certainly his glaring weakness.

If this fight stays standing, then I expect Barboza to do a lot of damage. Mitchell’s head movement isn’t very good and he relies heavily on getting those takedowns, something that Barboza blows hot and cold on defending. If it stays standing, Barboza wins. If Mitchell gets it down, he’ll keep getting takedowns and control rounds as well as anyone. It’s tough to call, but I have to go with the pressure of Mitchell to eventually secure those takedowns and claim the win.
PICK – Bryce Mitchell via Decision



Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) vs Renato Moicano (16-4-1) – (Catchweight/160lbs)

A very short-notice five-round fight between two excellent Brazilians in the co-main event. Dos Anjos was supposed to fight Rafael Fiziev before VISA issues and then COVID put an end to that. RDA hasn’t fought in over a year, with a win over Paul Felder at UFC Vegas 14 his last bout. Moicano is ona two-fight win streak after submission wins over Jai Herbert at UFC Vegas 30 and then Alexander Hernandez just a few weeks ago at UFC 271.

Dos Anjos is a former world champion, with an incredibly well-rounded skillset that can see him strike, wrestle and grapple with the very best at 155-pounds. Moicano is a slick striker with phenomenal jiu-jitsu skills, who spent a lot of his career at featherweight. Dos Anjos is usually at his best when he secures a takedown, takes control on the ground and then starts working for submissions. If he is on the ground with Moicano though, there is danger there.

In his advantage though, this is a full camp RDA who used to fight at welterweight taking on Moicano who is coming in on five-days’ notice in a 25-minute bout. On the feet RDA should have the advantage with his size despite the height and reach disadvantage, because he’ll use hard leg kicks and his weight to lean on Moicano. Eventually he’ll get him down, wear on him and secure a late finish against a game Moicano.
PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Submission, Round 4

Colby Covington (16-3) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-15) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The biggest fight of the night and the one everyone will be waiting for. Covington 1-2 in his last three fights, with a win over Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 sandwiched between defeats to Kamaru Usman in title fights, the most recent coming at UFC 268 in November last year. Masvidal is on a two-fight losing streak, with both defeats coming to Usman in title fights too at UFC 251 and UFC 261. Prior to that he had won three in a row, all via knockout.

Covington is the best wrestler in the division after Usman, with incredible cardio and much improved striking in his game since leaving American Top Team. Masvidal is a brawler with excellent boxing, a great switch kick and good defensive wrestling skills. The fact these two are former best friends and teammates with a personal rivalry means we’re expecting a scrap, but Covington is unlikely to engage in a straight up war with ‘Gamebred’.

Expect the younger fighter with the better wrestling to use his pressure to force Masvidal backwards, strike from range to set up his takedowns and constantly drag him down against the fence to wear on him. Masvidal will try to get back up, but Covington will bring him down again and land dominant shots on the ground to earn a wide decision victory in a fight that won’t have the fireworks many people are hoping for.
PICK – Colby Covington via Decision

UFC 272: Covington and Masvidal – Grudge match or mismatch?

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.

Major UFC 272 update, new non-title main event in works – report

The UFC is working on a brand-new non-title main event for UFC 272 between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.

The two welterweight superstars have been going back and forth on social media for a while after a public fall-out between Covington and the American Top Team gym they trained at together for years.

It now seems as though the two will meet in a huge pay-per-view main event on March 5th to settle their differences in the octagon.



The card has already seen changes to the main event, after it was announced that the card would play host to a double-header of title fights with Alexander Volkanovski fighting Max Holloway for the featherweight belt, and Aljamain Sterling fighting Petr Yan in the bantamweight division.

However just days after that announcement, Holloway was forced to withdraw from the fight after re-aggravating a previous injury in training.

All signs point to Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie) stepping into the fight in his place, although this is yet to be confirmed.

It’s now been claimed by MMA Fighting journalist Ariel Helwani that those title fights are set to be moved to April at UFC 273 though, with TKZ recovering from an injury. There is some concern that Sterling would have issues getting cleared to compete in New York though, where UFC 273 is due to be held.

According to the highly reliable Helwani, the UFC 272 card is due to take place in Las Vegas and with the 3/5 date, the UFC have seen it as a marketing dream to have Masvidal fight on the card.

While nothing is confirmed yet and Helwani says “there are a lot of moving parts” he is usually right when it comes to these things.

Covington and Masvidal have both gone 1-2 in their last three fights, with all their defeats coming to champion Kamaru Usman in title fights.

Covington was stopped by Usman back in December 2019 at UFC 245 before being well beaten in a decision rematch at UFC 268 most recently. He beat Tyron Woodley via a fifth-round TKO when Woodley injured his rib at UFC Vegas 11 in between.

Masvidal smashed through Nate Diaz to become BMF champion at UFC 244, before consecutive losses to Usman at UFC 251 on short-notice and then at UFC 261 via second-round knockout – one of the best KO’s of the year.

UFC 272 is due to take place on March 5th 2022, while UFC 273 will take place on April 9th 2022.

Why Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal should be the next Ultimate Fighter coaches

The welterweight division is wide open when it comes to who is next to challenge for Kamaru Usman’s championship, but one thing that is for sure is that it won’t be Colby Covington or Jorge Masvidal.

Between them, they’ve lost four of their last six fights with each of those defeats coming to the champion in title fights. Both men were KO’d once and taken the distance in another, but ultimately comfortably beaten.

So next up is obvious, right? Pit them against each other to get themselves back on track.



That was Covington’s clear plan anyway after defeat at UFC 268, calling for Masvidal to pull out of his scheduled fight with Leon Edwards at UFC 269 so they can finally settle their differences.

He got his wish just a few days later, as the UFC confirmed that Masvidal had suffered an “undisclosed injury” and would be unable to fight in December. A fight between the two hasn’t been made official yet, but it seems that’s the direction that the UFC want to go in.

But rather than just make the grudge match between the two headline a Fight Night card or act as a warm-up on a pay-per-view with little-to-no build up, the UFC can make this even bigger than it is already.

A new series of The Ultimate Fighter has already been confirmed for 2022, with the organisation confirming that two coaches will help a field of men’s heavyweights and women’s flyweights.

But while the return of the the series was relatively successful in 2021 with Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega in charge, it was missing that bit of edge.

The most memorable seasons of the show have always had an intense rivalry between the coaches as well as great competition inside the octagon.

The run-ins the two would have outside the cage, added to the fact there is already a feud between Covington and the American Top Team gym that Masvidal is part of, it would just add so much more to the bout.

Masvidal’s popularity and the creation of the ‘BMF Title’ means the UFC could potentially try to recreate what they did at UFC 244 by making the fight headline a pay-per-view card.

Adding the TUF finalists to the prelims or having them on a special fight night card beforehand means the show can still take precedence, but this fight just needs a bigger platform than a standard fight.

It needs five rounds, it needs a build-up for fight fans to be able to feed off and it needs a grand stage to host it. Make it happen UFC.

UFC 268 Fallout: Usman the GOAT, what next at strawweight?

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.

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ode Osbourne def CJ Vergara via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start to this fight with both guys staying in range and feinting a lot before exploding into strikes. Osbourne lands a nice left hand and then attempts a jump knee that just misses. Another left from Osbourne but Vergara trying to flick his jab and land hooks. Check-hook from Vergara lands but Osbourne rolls with it and replies with a strong right straight. Nice right hand from Vergara but neither fighter landing particularly flush yet. Osbourne goes for a takedown but Vergara gets himself to the cage and is able to defend it as we enter the final minute of the round. More close exchanges from both fighters before a strong right hand and head kick lands from Vergara right at the end of the round. 10-9 Osbourne for me, but close.

Vergara taking charge of the second round as we begin, stepping forward and throwing strong strikes on the inside. Osbourne starting to throw kicks to try and get some distance back between the two of them, but Vergara is doing well. Nice hook from Osbourne lands but Vergara replies with a left hand of his own. Osbourne growing into the round, landing his left hand more and busting up the nose of Vergara. Osbourne changes levels in the middle of an exchange to go for a takedown but Vergara defends really well. Osbourne continuing to throw combinations to the head and Vergara is slowing down. Front kick to the head just misses from Vergara, then he attempts another and Osbourne catches it and takes him down to end the round. 20-18 Osbourne.

Vergara trying to empty the tank in the final round, possibly feeling as though he’s behind, and Osbourne is starting to counter more and more. Two big left hands land and he drops Vergara, but he gets back up immediately and continues to step forward applying pressure. Osbourne goes for some takedown attempts but Vergara denies them and continues to walk him down. Vergara and Osbourne clinch in the middle and then Vergara trips him and ends up on top in Osbourne’s full guard. Osbourne is visibly tiring but is trying to tie him up to stall, but Vergara lands a big elbow from the top. More ground and pound attempts from Vergara but Osbourne is shifting his hips and looking to set up submissions. Vergara lands three big elbows from the top as we enter the final minute and now Osbourne is trying to get up to his feet. Vergara is able to pin him down and lands some more ground strikes but the round comes to an end and Osbourne should claim the tight decision win. 29-28 Osbourne for me.

Melsik Baghdasaryan def Bruno Souza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Slow start to the fight with both guys feeling each other out early on, as Melsik lands two nice low kicks inside the first minute. Baghdasaryan starting to walk Souza down against the cage, but not much action so far. Souza goes for a jump knee but misses, before Baghdasaryan lands a nice left hand. Souza tries to create some distance with a few body kicks but Baghdasaryan showing real disdain for his power and walking him down with his hands really low. Souza shoots for a takedown after eating another hard low kick, but Baghdasaryan denies it excellently and they separate. Spinning kick from Baghdasaryan causes Souza to lose balance before a hard body kick, but Souza is struggling with speed and distance. 10-9 Melsik.

Souza opens up with a right hand but Baghdasaryan stepping forward again and just forcing him to fight on the back foot. Another hard low kick from Melsik, and another. Souza doing a lot of moving but not much else and Melsik currently seems content just to outwork him for a win. Melsik lands a nice overhand left but the two clinch and then separate. Another left hand lands and Souza lands two nice jabs, before Melsik evades and lands a beautiful uppercut-left hook combo. End of the second round, 20-18 Baghdasaryan.

Final round and Souza trying to come forward to claim the initiative. Baghdasaryan throwing low kicks and forcing Souza to switch stances a lot and buckling the leg. Lots of hesitation from both guys so far, before a strong knee from Souza. A longer exchange sees Baghdasaryan land a nice left hand. Entering the final minute and Souza goes for a takedown but once again Baghdasaryan defends it really well and kicks him away. More movement from both guys before a big right hand lands from Baghdasaryan and a final exchange before the bell. 30-27 Baghdasaryan for me. Not a great fight.

Dustin Jacoby def John Allan via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Very intriguing start to this fight with both guys standing right in front of each other and trading blows. Jacoby using his jab well and landing some low kicks, but Allan is throwing them too and landing them much heavier. Battle of the low kicks so far but Jacoby’s hands flowing much better and landing more fluently. Strong body kick from Allan followed up by a jab, but Jacoby is growing in confidence. Hard strikes from both again, but Jacoby has a slight speed advantage it seems. Head kick attempt from Jacoby just misses, then he follows up with a hard low kick again. Hard right hand from Jacoby right on the buzzer ends an entertaining round. 10-9 Jacoby.

Both guys throwing out hard low kicks once again in this second round. Jacoby’s jab starting to get through the guard of Allan, but neither guy going anywhere currently. Nice one-two from Jacoby but Allan steps forward and lands a nice left hand. Allan starting to apply more pressure and Jacoby is slowing down, but he’s still landing his jabs well. Allan getting more physical as he walks forward but Jacoby counters with a good one-two and a right hand down the middle. Final minute of the round and Allan pouring the pressure on, which causes a second accidental eye poke of the fight by Jacoby. The referee decides it’s accidental and the fight resumes without further punishment for 30 seconds before it ends. 20-18.

Final round and Jacoby is landing his leg kicks well and throwing the jab out there once again. Allan on the front foot trying to pressure Jacoby, but his counters are quick and his movement still good enough to evade. Nice right hand lands from Allan knocks his mouthpiece out but Jacoby not hurt by it. Nice right hand lands down the pipe from Jacoby as we approach the half-way point of the final round. Allan continuing with the hard pressure to force Jacoby backwards but not throwing enough output right now. Head kick from Jacoby lands but is partially blocked as we enter the final minute. Nice body shot from Allan but Jacoby responds with three or four strikes to earn marks with the judges and the round comes to an end. 30-27 Jacoby.

Chris Barnett def Gian Villante via Knockout, Round 2 (3:22)

Some front kicks to the body attempted early on by Villante but they all miss, before Barnett lands a low kick. More low kicks from Barnett land but very little output from these two guys so far. Villante lands a nice body kick finally, before Barnett lands a nice body kick of his own and then they trade low kicks. Left hook lands for Villante but everything is singular right now from both guys. Villante looks for a head kick before Barnett counters with an uppercut and then blitzes forward with four strikes. Spin kick to the body by Barnett lands before the two fighters clinch up to end the round. 10-9 Barnett, but could be anything.

Another slow start to the round before Barnett throws a double spin kick that lands and gets a reaction from the crowd. Barnett throws a nice overhand right that lands, but Villante looks slow and goes for a head kick that misses. Barnett throws a wheel kick to the head and drops Villante! He follows him up with some heavy ground and pound strikes and Villante is just covering up and the referee stops it! Huge win for Barnett!

PRELIMS

Ian Garry def Jordan Williams via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Garry goes in for a low kick and Williams counters with a fierce one-two that wobbles him! Garry recovers quickly and goes for another leg kick, but Williams lands another big one-two that snaps his head back. Williams staying patient though and looking to counter more. Nice body kick from Garry lands as he circles on the outside. Williams goes in for a big shot but over-reaches and misses then grabs a leg to engage a takedown against the cage. Garry defends it well and then switches the position briefly to gain some control as they battle in the clinch. Nice knee from Garry in the clinch to the head before a hard right hand lands on the break. Hard left high kick lands from Garry, but Williams drops his hands and continues to walk forward. Garry looking to counter and just about avoiding big strikes. Williams goes in for a big left hand that he slips and then lands a huge right straight that puts Williams out!! He lands a follow up and walks off before the referee waves it off! What a knockout! Wow!

Nassourdine Imavov def Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 2 (4:42)

Lots of feinting early on between these two, as Shahbazyan lands a few hard low kicks. Imavov pushes Shahbazyan against the cage with pressure and lands a hard right hand, but Shahbazyan throws another hard low kick. Shahbazyan landing hard low kicks and he buckles Imavov’s leg with one, but Imavov responds with a hard right hand too. Clinch against the cage and Shahbazyan goes for a takedown and eventually gets it, but Imavov sinks in a guillotine! Shahbazyan is able to escape and gets back to the top position before they get back to the feet. Clinch against the cage and Imavov lands a big elbow before Shahbazyan switches the position and sees the round out. 10-9 Shahbazyan for me.

Another hard low kick by Shahbazyan and he’s getting reactions from Imavov for it now. Nice body work from Shahbazyan but Imavov looking to turn the pressure up a little in this second round, as they cinch up against the cage. Shahbazyan goes for a takedown again but Imavov looking for a standing guillotine and it looks really tight but Shahbazyan just about escapes! He drops down for another takedown and once again leaves his neck hanging out and Imavov takes it for a big submission but again Shahbazyan shows great heart to survive and escape! Imavov looks for a takedown and Shahbazyan takes his neck but he is able to switch sides and relieve the pressure. Shahbazyan is exhausted now and Imavov lands some huge elbows! He transitions on the ground into a crucifix position and lands some huge elbows until the referee calls an end to the fight! What a performance!

Chris Curtis def Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:27)

Good start to the fight for Hawes as he steps forward and lands some powerful shots down the middle and some brilliant front kicks. Hawes keeping the pace high and throwing lots of combinations, ripping body kicks and hard right hands to the face. Curtis tries to fire back but Hawes is too quick and too powerful so far, just throwing lots of shots and constantly stepping forward. Hawes lands a nice overhand right and fakes a level change too to keep Curtis guessing. Hawes looks brilliant so far, but Curtis counters a right hand with a left hook to the body. Both guys throw at the same time and Curtis lands a brilliant left hand straight to the chin that wobbles Hawes!! He goes for the finish and lands a knee to the body, then they separate and Hawes just falls to the ground! The referee steps in and it’s all over! What a comeback win!!

Bobby Green def Al Iaquinta via Knockout, Round 1 (2:25)

Fast start to the fight from both guys with Iaquinta stepping forward and looking to box, but Green standing with his hands low and using his great shoulder roll defence. Nice right hand lands from Green as he moves away from Iaquinta and avoids more strikes. Iaquinta steps forward and Green lands a left jab with a straight right hand behind it that drops Iaquinta!! He stuffs a takedown attempt and then rains down ground and pound until the referee steps in! Huge win for Green!

Alex Pereira def Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 2 (0:18)

Both guys starting on the feet with distance and looking to land low kicks. Pereira goes for a one-two but Michailidis ducks under it and shoots in for a takedown. Pereira looks to defend it well but Michailidis overpowers him and gets him down to the mat. He looks to take his back and get some shots in, but Pereira defends it really well and gets back to his feet. The referee separates them after a lack of action, but then Michailidis goes straight back in for the takedown and they remain in a clinch against the cage for the rest of the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Pereira comes out early with a head kick attempt. Michailidis fakes a level change and Pereira comes up with a flying knee and puts him out!! He follows up with one shot and then the referee ends it! Wow!

MAIN CARD

Justin Gaethje def Michael Chandler via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Gaethje opens up with a low kick that just misses and then Chandler lands a nice left hand. Gaethje slips a right hand and counters with one of his own, then lands a leg kick that wobbles Chandler. Chandler lands a hard leg kick of his own and then they exchange. Chandler lands a huge right hand in the exchange and both men are trying to take the other’s head off. Hard low kicks being exchanged and then Chandler lands a big right hand but Gaethje eats it! Both men land a jab and then Gaethje lands a hard low kick. Huge left hook from Gaethje lands and then Chandler lands a flush one two! Gaethje is hurt and Chandler goes for a flying knee! Chandler goes for the kill and wobbles Gaethje, but he fires back and now Chandler is hurt! Big hooks from Gaethje and Chandler eats it! Gaethje lands some huge uppercuts and Chandler is hurt! Huge right hand from Gaethje again, Chandler is exhausted and shoots for a takedown but Gaethje stuffs it! What a round! I have no idea how to score that!

More of the same in the second as Gaethje looks to counter Chandler’s jab with a hard one-two. Chandler fighting behind his jab now but Gaethje is countering brilliantly. Big right hand from Gaethje and then an uppercut. Hard left hook from Gaethje and then a massive uppercut drops Chandler! He goes for the finish but Chandler grabs onto a single leg and just stalls him to try and recover. Gaethje finally gets back to his feet and starts teeing off on Chandler again. Big uppercut from Chandler but Gaethje eats it, then stuffs a takedown. Chandler kicks off the cage with a superman punch that lands flush, but Gaethje lands a hard leg kick and Chanlder is wobbled. Hard right hand again from Gaethje and then Chandler lands a hard right hand, but seems to poke Gaethje and the referee pauses it. Quick restart and then the end of the round. Gaethje round with the knockdown. Amazing fight.

Hard low kick early in the third from Gaethje again and Chandler is suffering with it. Gaethje’s right hand lands, but then Chandler lands one and has to eat a huge leg kick again. Chandler starts working to the body and then Gaethje lands a big left hook and a hard leg kick. Gaethje follows up with two huge hooks and then Chandler shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Gaethje scrambles out and ends up on top landing ground and pound. Chandler egging Gaethje on and he’s getting absolutely smashed now. Gaethje throwing huge hooks and Chandler is literally walking through him like a terminator! This is insane! Final minute and both men are exhausted but it’s Gaethje coming forward and that is the end of the night! What an incredible fight. Absolutely amazing. Gaethje wins for me. Insane.

Shane Burgos def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast start to this one as Burgos starts popping his jab and landing some hard low kicks. Nice right hand from Burgos lands and Quarantillo starts to get a little wilder and just misses with a jump knee. Burgos lands a jab, low kick and then grabs a body lock to try and control Quarantillo. A few knees each in the exchange and both guys are landing huge shots now. Burgos slipping with a big right hand, but Quarantillo’s jab is doing damage and busting the nose of Burgos up. Lots of low kicks from Burgos but Quarantillo still coming forward. Both guys trading hooks and Burgos gets the better of it and then Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown. Well defended by Burgos and then they separate. Burgos lands a huge right hand that drops Quarantillo to one knee and then he smashes him while he’s down but he just eats the shot. More back and forth as the round ends. 10-9 Burgos for me.. just.

Huge right hand from Burgos to start the round but Quarantillo returns with a big overhand right of his own. He pressures forward and just misses with a spinning back fist, and then Burgos digs to the body and lands a hard right hand. Quarantillo throwing jabs relentlessly but Burgos slipping some and then lands a hard low kick that drops Quarantillo down again. Quarantillo looking to be physical in the clinch but Burgos holding his own and then lands a nice hook to the body. Clinch again and Quarantillo just seems a physically stronger guy and is having his way here. Burgos lands two big hooks and then a hard low kick as Quarantillo misses with a wild overhand right. Quarantillo goes for a takedown but it’s denied and then they exchange big strikes again. Hard low kick again from Burgos but Quarantillo lands a flush right hand. Burgos starts slamming his shots in and Quarantillo is hurt! Burgos slamming in low kicks and smashing him with right hooks but the buzzer goes! Unbelievable fight! 20-18 Burgos for me but it’s close.

Final round and Burgos wants the kill. He’s stepping forward and landing his right hand, with the low kicks absolutely taking their toll now on Quarantillo who’s struggling to stand. Burgos lands a hard right hand again but Quarantillo clinches up after some failed takedown attempts. Quarantillo looking for some haymakers but Burgos is slipping and countering with short shots and now winning the clinch exchanges against a one-legged Quarantillo. Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown but again Burgos defends it well. Quarantillo trips him but Burgos jumps back up immediately and they start trading strikes again. Burgos chops at the leg again but Quarantillo responds with a big uppercut and then they clinch again exchanging knees. Wild flurry from both men at the end but Burgos should take the W.

Marlon Vera def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 3 (3:50)

Fast start from Edgar as he steps forward with a nice right hand and then a level change to attempt the takedown, but Vera stuffs it. Vera taking the centre and throws a hard body kick that Edgar catches, but he again denies the trip attempt. Edgar bouncing around a lot and Vera staying calm in the centre. Edgar shoots for the takedown scrambles his way to the top and starts looking for ground and pound in the centre of the cage. Edgar lands some short elbows and starts going to the body, but Vera is landing some heavy elbows from the bottom too. Vera defending well from the bottom, but Edgar controlling the position and then lands another big elbow. Big upkicks from Vera land and Edgar drops down to his knee and back into full guard to work the short elbows. Edgar ends the round on top and Vera looking for an upkick. 10-9 Edgar.

Hard low kick from Vera at the start of the second and then a great left hand lands as they exchange strikes. Edgar lands a nice right hand over the top as Vera fires back with a right cross. Edgar changes levels and gets the takedown, but Vera immediately throws hard elbows to the head and lands some upkicks from the bottom too. Edgar stacking him and moving to get into full guard and attack with ground and pound but Vera rolls through and gets back to his feet. Vera denies another takedown from Edgar but he’s starting to walk forward now and trying to cut the cage off. Hard knee from Vera up the middle grazes Edgar and then a big left hand behind it. Vera closing the distance and lands another knee that drops Edgar momentarily. Low kick from Edgar lands hard and then a big right hand lands on the chin of Vera. Vera lands a short elbow that wobbles Edgar and then goes for another big knee right at the end of the round. 19-19 for me!

Both guys a little more hesitant in this final round to start, knowing it’s a close fight. Vera is pushing forward a lot now and forcing Edgar backwards to close distance. Edgar goes for a takedown but Vera stuffs it and makes him eat a nice left uppercut. Hard low kick from Vera lands and then a hard front kick to the body again. Jab lands from Vera but Edgar lands a nice body shot in return. Vera closing distance and he lands a hard left hook. Edgar goes for the takedown and gets it but Vera gets back up to his feet quickly and continues the pressure. Vera throws a HUGE front kick to the face and Edgar is out!!! Wow!!! What a knockout win!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

Three hard outside leg kicks land from Zhang early on in the opening round, with Namajunas taking the centre and feeling her opponent out. Zhang lands another low kick, before Namajunas throws a low kick of her own then blitzes forward with some nice strikes to the face. Namajunas stepping forward again and lands another low kick followed by a left hook, before Zhang shoots for a takedown and gets it. Namajunas grappling well and defending her position on her back, but Zhang using her physicality to get on top and land some good strikes. Rose sweeps and gets back to her feet really well. Zhang throwing haymakers but Namajunas quick enough to evade so far and lands a few low kicks for good measure. Weili slips and Namajunas throws a beautiful right hand clean as the round ends. Close, but I think it’s 10-9 Zhang.

Namajunas moving well early in this second round and she lands a nice one-two that ends with a low kick that gets a reaction from Zhang. Namajunas threatening with the high kick from the first fight, but Zhang lands a big combination. Namajunas responds with one of her own though and Zhang just misses with her own head kick. Namajunas lands a left hook as Zhang lands another hard leg kick. Another hard leg kick from Zhang, but Namajunas still moving very well. Zhang lands a big right hand that wobbles Namajunas, who responds with a big head kick! Namajunas goes for another head kick but Zhang catches it and takes her down to the mat. Namajunas lands a big upkick, but then Zhang replies with a big strike from the top position before they get back to the feet. Namajunas with an outside trip for a takedown of her own and she moves into full mount but the buzzer ends her chances of success. Another very close round. 19-19.

Third round and Namajunas feinting a lot and making Zhang miss with a wild hook. Both women trade low kicks and then go back to bouncing and feinting each other. Zhang misses big with a few hooks, but Namajunas trying to counter and just missing herself. Hard low kick from Namajunas and then she slips out of the way of a big right hand. Hard right hand from Namajunas again but Zhang responds with a big low kick and then a body kick. Big exchange and Namajunas lands a left hook and low kick combination that drops Zhang! She looks to finish but Zhang clinches up and recovers against the cage before they trade low kicks again. Overhand right from Zhang but Namajunas counters with a left hook, right hand. Zhang fires back with a huge left hook that lands flush, but Namajunas still there. Zhang goes for a takedown and gets it, now tries to transition to the back. Namajunas is able to defend until the buzzer, but that’s a Zhang round. 29-28.

Championship rounds and they’re going for it! Zhang looks for a hook and Namajunas lands a big right hand that stuns Zhang! Namajunas lands it twice more and then Zhang catches a kick and takes the fight to the mat, but Namajunas with upkicks get back up immediately. Namajunas goes for a right hand but Zhang shoots in and gets the back of Namajunas again. Namajunas staying calm though and defends it well, then sweeps and explodes to get top position. Decend ground and pound strikes from Namajunas on top and Zhang fighting to control her. Namajunas on top and lands a big left hand as the round comes to an end. 38-38 going into the final round for me!

Final round and Zhang going for the leg kicks once again. Zhang goes for a big strike but Namajunas slips it and then flies into a takedown with a big outside trip. Namajunas lands a big strike on the ground and is controlling from top position and Zhang looks very tired. Zhang looking for upkicks but Namajunas able to avoid damage and trying to move to side control now. Zhang gets it back to full guard and is throwing elbows from the bottom as well as upkicks now. Namajunas however staying calm and controlling position as we enter the final minute. Nice elbows from the bottom but then Namajunas stands, lands a leg kick to a downed Zhang and then a big left hand to go back into guard to see the round out on top. That should see her retain the belt! What a fight!

Kamaru Usman def Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)

Early jab lands for Usman with both fighters far more cautious in the opening moments of this fight than their first. Usman pressuring forward and forcing Covington backwards, who just misses with a wild left hand. Covington goes for a takedown and Usman immediately rolls through it, takes the controlling position and then they get to the feet. Hard left hand lands for Covington but Usman eats it and looking to land his jab again. Usman steps in to strike but Covington moves and lands a good left hand. Usman shoots for the takedown as Covington looks to blitz, but Covington able to get back up immediately too. Covington throwing a straight left well, but Usman eating it and fires back with a right hand of his own. Nice left by Covington again as the round ends. Close one, 10-9 Covington.

Usman opens the round up with a nice left hook but Covington staying calm and fighting a slower pace than either usually fight at. Covington goes for a left hand and Usman clinches up, with boy guys trading body shots before they separate. Big body shot from Usman and Colby just misses with a left hand. Hard low kick from Covington but Usman responds with a body kick and a jab. Big right hand from Covington lands and then he changes levels for a takedown, but Usman defends it really well against the cage and muscles his way out of it. Usman by far the more aggressive so far and leading the fight. Usman lands a big left hook that drops Covington! Colby gets back up but Usman lands another hard left hand that drops him again. Covington grabbed on to a leg and survived 15 seconds until the bell. Mad. 19-19 for me, but Usman could be 20-18 up.

Round three and Usman taking the centre again and staying patient. Using the jab well again but then Covington lands a big one-two that lands clean. Usman pawing away with the jab as both guys fake takedown attempts. Covington lands a body kick but Usman just walking him down and lands a nice right hand. Covington lands a big left hand clean and then goes for a takedown but Usman defends it with ease and lands some ground strikes from the front headlock position. Big body kick from Usman and then a straight right hand. Both guys trading strikes and Usman lands a nice right hand before going back to his jab. Covington lands a few big left hands and then finally secures a late takedown with a trip and a few strikes before the buzzer. 29-28 Usman.

Championship rounds now and Usman seems to have lost a little focus. Covington landing his left hand well and clean. Nice jab from Covington before Usman throws a wild hook to the body. Covington lands a left hand and just misses with an uppercut. Covington lands the big left hand again and then follows up with a jab, right hand and left hook again! Usman stays calm though and responds with some big right hands of his own and this is becoming more like the first fight now. Usman lands a big right hand but Covington now taking the centre. Covington lands a big body kick and then three or four big left hands that have Usman wobbled. Covington goes for a takedown but Usman defends against the cage. Nice strikes from Covington and then a big left hand wobbles Usman right on the buzzer!! Wow! 38-38 going into the final round!

Final round and Usman looking to work the body, but Covington looking to land his left hand again. Usman lands a nice right hand before Covington lands two big lefts and Usman starts wobbling again! Covington shoots for a takedown and Usman stuffs it well, then lands a great jab once they’re back on the feet. Head kick from Usman lands but then Covington lands a nice left hand again. Covington goes for a head kick but Usman slips and then Covington goes for a takedown again. Usman defends and keeps it against the cage. Covington lands a big elbow as they break but Usman stepping forward in the final minute with his jab. Usman looks to evade a strike but gets a finger in the eye accidentally with 40 seconds left to pause the action. Head kick from Usman and they trade strikes until the final buzzer. What a fight. Who knows what the score is.

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Main card predictions

An absolute banger of a card takes place from Madison Square Garden this weekend as UFC 268 finally is upon us.

A welterweight championship rematch headlines the card as Kamaru Usman looks to lap the division when he takes on Colby Covington in the main event, while Rose Namajunas is looking to bring some stability to strawweight but she’ll have to dispatch of Weili Zhang once again in the co-main.

We also have violence guaranteed in the main card opener between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler in a lightweight contender bout.

Last week at UFC 267 we had a great night, picking 12/14 fights correctly with four perfect picks to move us up to 458/716 (63.97%) with 194 perfect picks (42.36%).

We’ll look to continue that good momentum with this 14-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, we completed our prelim picks here and now move on to the main card.


Justin Gaethje (22-3) vs Michael Chandler (22-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Not only my pick for fight of the night, but arguably and potentially the fight of the year opens up the UFC 268 main card. Gaethje is coming off his lightweight title shot defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 last October, following a four-fight win streak before that. Chandler is 1-1 in the UFC after KO’ing Dan Hooker at UFC 257 before losing his lightweight title shot to Charles Oliveira at UFC 262.

Gaethje is a straight up brawler, with persistent forward pressure and amazing punching power with a brilliant wrestling pedigree in his background too. Chandler is also a brilliant wrestler with a solid background, with powerful punching and solid hooks also. This fight is sure to be fireworks and that means Gaethje has the advantage.

His constant pressure and amazing cardio is brilliant to watch and he has genuine one-punch knockout power. He has great combinations and his leg kicks are legendary. With that said though, Chandler is arguably a more willing wrestler and that is his path to victory. Chandler could throw up a shock, but I can’t look past Gaethje earning yet another highlight reel knockout win.
PICK – Justin Gaethje via Knockout, Round 1

Shane Burgos (13-3) vs Billy Quarantillo (16-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight next between two guys looking to become contenders in the division. Burgos is on a two-fight losing streak after a decision loss to Josh Emmett before getting KO’d by Edson Barboza at UFC 262. Quarantillo suffered defeat to Gavin Tucker at UFC 256, but bounced back with a KO win over Gabriel Benitez at UFC Vegas 31.

Burgos is a very, very good boxer and is up there with Rob Font and Max Holloway as the best strikers in the division. Quarantillo is a fan favourite who is a brilliant cardio fighter, using his gas tank as a weapon to go along with his solid striking skills. This is set to be a striking fan’s paradise, with both guys going toe-to-toe and using their excellent technique to get one over their opponent.

Quarantillo has a jiu-jitsu advantage but Burgos’ wrestling is good enough to avoid that even coming into the equation and on the feet, I think he has the edge. He has big power, great combinations and excellent body work so I think he claims a fun decision win that gets fans up on their feet throughout.
PICK – Shane Burgos via Decision

Frankie Edgar (24-9-1) vs Marlon Vera (17-7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very exciting fight in the bantamweight division between two guys looking to become contenders. Edgar opened his 135lbs career with a decision win over Pedro Munhoz at UFC Vegas 7, before a jump-knee KO defeat to Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 18. Vera in the other corner has alternated wins and losses recently, KO’ing Sean O’Malley at UFC 252, then dropped a decision against Jose Aldo at UFC Vegas 17 before bouncing back with a win over Davey Grant at UFC Vegas 29.

Edgar is a legend of the game, previously holding the title at 155lbs, who has tremendous wrestling and an excellent ground game. Vera is a fighter who stylistically is relatively similar, with excellent ground game and powerful striking on the feet too with heavy leg kicks. This is a really even match up, but ultimately father time may have finally caught up with Edgar.

At 40-years-old now and with four defeats in his last six, it’s hard to see him claiming victory here. Vera can match him in the wrestling, is probably the better striker and has the output and cardio to go hard for 15 minutes so I think he claims an important decision victory.
PICK – Marlon Vera via Decision



Rose Namajunas (11-4) vs Weili Zhang (21-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Without a doubt the hardest fight to pick on the entire card is the women’s strawweight title fight. Namajunas has won her last two-in-a-row, defeating Jessica Andrade before KO’ing Weili Zhang at UFC 261, snapping the Chinese fighter’s 21-fight winning streak.

Namajunas is a very well-rounded fighter, with much improved striking over the years and good power in her punches and kicks. She is also a very good grappler, with half of her career wins coming via submission. Zhang is a powerhouse of a fighter with ten knockout wins but also good wrestling and submissions herself. It’s a very well-rounded and evenly matched fight, which makes it so hard to pick.

In their first fight at UFC 261, I predicted Zhang to use her physicality and power to grind away and earn a stoppage. But after that fight, it’s hard to go against Namajunas. She has a speed advantage, uses her kicks brilliantly and can more than hold her own on the ground so I think she’ll be able to go 25 minutes and hang with Zhang to earn yet another win and cement herself as one of the best ever at this weight.
PICK – Rose Namajunas via Decision

Kamaru Usman (19-1) vs Colby Covington (16-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The grudge match of all grudge matches at welterweight as the champ defends his title in a rematch from 2019. Usman is on an 18-fight win streak including a fifth-round KO of Covington in his first title defence at UFC 245. He’s since beaten Masvidal twice and KO’d Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 too. Covington has only fought once since, stopping Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 in September 2020.

Usman and Covington are both primary wrestlers, but have great volume and striking on the feet too which led to zero takedown attempts during their first fight. Usman has however greatly improved his striking since that fight, with two KO’s in three fights since. Covington went back to his pressuring wrestling against Woodley to earn a dominant win, but whether he can implement that style against Usman is hard to say.

Colby is unlikely to get into a straight striking war again after he got his jaw broken in their first fight, which means he’ll probably try to wrestle more. But Usman is the physically stronger fighter and arguably the superior wrestler, so it’s really tough to see how Covington can get a win. Usman’s striking is powerful and greatly improved under Trevor Wittman, and his wrestling is still unmatched in the division (maybe the company?). Ultimately, Usman is the best and won’t lose this title until he retires probably so I think he earns the big win yet again to cement his legacy as one of the best ever.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 268: Kamaru Usman can lap welterweight with another win over Colby Covington

Every great fighter in the history of the combat sports world has had someone that pushed them to their limit and helped them to see greatness.

Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier, Khabib Nurmagomedov had Conor McGregor, Jon Jones had Daniel Cormier and it’s fair to say that Kamaru Usman has Colby Covington.

You’ll find very few people who disagree with the fact these two are the gold standard when it comes to 170lbs fighters in the UFC in the modern era, arguably the best we’ve seen since Georges St-Pierre’s reign in the mid 2000’s.



Their first fight back in December 2019 was the first defence of Usman’s now historic title reign.

Covington was seen as the rightful contender having been stripped of his interim title after opting to undergo sinus surgery, allowing Usman to swoop in and demolish Tyron Woodley to claim the belt for himself.

That fight at UFC 245 went down as an all-time classic and one of the best title fights in the companies history, with Usman scoring a fifth-round knockout after a stand-up war between two of the best wrestlers in the division.

Since then Usman has beaten Masvidal twice, including with a violent knockout at UFC 261, and Gilbert Burns via knockout at UFC 258 too, while Covington finally got his win over Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 in September last year.

Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena...

Ultimately, Usman has cleaned out the division for the most part. He has beaten all of Leon Edwards, Demian Maia and Rafael Dos Anjos as well as those previously mentioned to become one of the true greats of this era. He’s even recognised as the pound-for-pound number one in the company.

But a win over Covington at UFC 268 this weekend could separate him from the pack even further.

This is supposed to be the fighter who is closest to being his equal. The first fight was super close and ultimately a broken jaw was the difference as the damage became too much to endure.

But if Usman is able to do it again, and in a more convincing fashion, then how is anyone supposed to beat him?

Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Colby Covington in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December...

Edwards is undefeated in ten fights and will fight Masvidal at UFC 269, with a win guaranteeing him the next title shot, while Khamzat Chimaev proved the hype was real with his dominant submission win over Li Jingliang at UFC 267.

But Chimaev is still a few fights away from title contention in reality and Edwards has already suffered defeat to Usman. While that was in 2015, stylistically Usman still has a huge advantage over Edwards and it would be a big upset if the Brit was to win the title.

Usman has a chance to do something that GSP never did at welterweight, and that is completely clean out the division. If Israel Adesanya hadn’t been the champion at 185lbs, it’s pretty clear that Usman would have moved up to try and take that belt too.

But with neither looking like losing their belts any time soon, Usman can shut the book on this ‘rivalry’ with a second straight win over Covington and cement his legacy as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all-time.

UFC announce change to UFC 265 co-main, UFC 267 card change and UFC 268 title fight

The UFC have announced some interesting changes to their upcoming cards.

UFC 265 is due to take place next weekend, headlined by Derrick Lewis taking on Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title after the company grew frustrated with the availability of champion Francis Ngannou.

However the card was due to be co-headlined by ‘Lioness’ Amanda Nunes defending her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena. But the UFC have announced that the double champ and greatest women’s mixed martial artist ever has tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight has now been scrapped.

The UFC revealed that the plan is still for that fight to take place eventually once Nunes is fully healthy and capable, with a December defence now pencilled in instead.

Two months later will see UFC 267 take place, but it won’t be a pay-per-view card despite the fact it will host TWO title fights!

Jan Blachowicz will defend his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira, in a bout that has been moved from it’s original date of September 4th to October 30th in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island.

The UFC moved the bout as they looked to host a card in London in September, however they have been unsuccessful in doing so and that card will now take place in Las Vegas at the Apex as originally planned.

UFC 267 will also see the highly anticipated rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan for the bantamweight title after their initial fight ended in disqualification and a new champion back at UFC 259.

According to Ariel Helwani however, this card won’t be a normal pay-per-view card despite it being a numbered event and will air for free on ESPN+ in the USA (BT Sport as usual in the UK).

The reason for this is because the following week on November 6th, UFC 268 will take place and will be headlined by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defending his title against long-time rival Colby Covington in a rematch.

Usman defeated Covington back in December 2019 at UFC 245, securing a knockout win in the fifth round and breaking Covington’s jaw in the process in one of the greatest welterweight title fights in UFC history.

Covington bounced back from that loss with a win over Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11, which was enough for Dana White to grant him a rematch. Usman on the other hand has successfully defended his title three more times since that fight, beating Jorge Masivdal at UFC 251 before knocking out Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 and then Masvidal again at UFC 261 earlier this year.

What should be next for Leon Edwards?

It’s not often that a UFC card ends with an anti-climax in terms of what happens next, but that’s exactly what happened at UFC Vegas 21 between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad.

The two met in a welterweight main event after Muhammad agreed to step in on short-notice following the withdrawal of Khamzat Chimaev due to complications with COVID-19. It was short-lived though, and not in a spectacular finish type of way.

After a comfortable first round for Edwards, he poked Muhammad in the eye at the start of the second round accidentally when going for a head-kick and the fight was brought to a premature end by the ringside doctor.

After the fight Edwards was quick to state that he didn’t see a need for a rematch despite the bitter ending to the fight, especially considering it’s not a fight that was supposed to take place anyway.

Muhammad responded on social media after revealing that there was no permanent damage to the eye, calling Edwards out and saying he is ‘soft’ for claiming a rematch isn’t warranted.

While some agree with Muhammad the vast majority, including myself, agree with Edwards – a rematch isn’t necessary. The fight had no business taking place as it was and only happened because nobody else would step up. While it’s admirable that he did, that doesn’t mean he gets a permanent boost up the rankings with match ups.

It was an opportunity that was unfortunately taken away from him, but that same thing has happened to Chimaev. He’s lost his opportunity to jump the queue and will now have to have a new match up with someone closer to his ranking. It’s unfortunate, and maybe unfair, but it’s also unfair to make Edwards fight someone so far below a ranking he’s earned while he pursues a title shot.

Muhammad of course challenged Li Jingliang due to their ranking positions after his most recent win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258, so that is a match up that can be revisited.

As for Edwards, I don’t totally agree with his belief that he earned a title shot off the back of this one rounder. If he’d got the finish, then definitely, but you can’t award someone a title shot off the back of a no contest following a year and a half out – even if they were on an eight-fight win streak before that.

His best bet is a fight with Colby Covington in a title eliminator, or go up against the most recent number one contender in Gilbert Burns.

Burns challenged Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 but got KO’d in round three following an excellent stand-up display from the champion. Since then, he has claimed he wants to get back in quickly against a top contender to earn another shot – calling out Covington also.

Covington believes he’s due another shot at the belt already after destroying Tyron Woodley in his most recent fight at UFC Vegas 11, but the UFC champion disagrees. Usman has called out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch later this year after their UFC 251 bout in July last year happened on just six days’ notice.

With that fight confirmed to take place at UFC 261 in front of a full capacity crowd on April 24th, Covington holds the keys to the future of the division.

The fight was the UFC’s pick to fill in when Chimaev dropped out and it’s the fight that makes the most sense, but Covington has shown in the past that he is more than willing to turn fights down if he doesn’t want to take them.

That could open the door up for Burns to jump into the position and get himself in the reckoning once again.

Burns and Covington are the only fighters ranked above Edwards right now that aren’t the champion so one of those has to be his next opponent if any of this is to make sense. The obvious answer is Covington in a title eliminator, with the winner fighting against the winner of Usman vs Masvidal 2 (which doesn’t need to happen btw).

The welterweight division is finally opening up now and with a few correct decisions from the match-makers with some willing fighters could make this an absolutely belting years at 170lbs.