Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman put his title on the line for the first time in the UFC 245 main event on Saturday against former interim titleholder Colby Covington. It was a grudge match. The two despise each other and months of trash talk led up to Saturday’s title fight.
There was no feeling out process. Once the bell rang starting the first round, the two immediately went after each other. Usman landed right hands repeatedly while Covington’s left hand found its mark several times.
In the second frame, Usman began targeting Covington’s body. He delivered front kicks and hooks to Covington’s midsection. Usman landed power shots while Covington utilized a high output offense.
During the third round, Usman landed a clean punch that may have broken Covington’s jaw. Following the round, Covington told his corner that his jaw was broken but went back out in the fourth and took the fight to the champion. He landed combinations and uppercuts and set the pace. Heading into the final frame, neither fighter had a clear advantage.
Late in the final round, a straight right hand from Usman sent Covington crashing to the canvas. He quickly got back to his feet but Usman kept the pressure on. Another right hand sent Covington back down and Usman followed. The champion delivered hammer fists to Covington’s head until the referee stepped in to stop it.
“This one is not just for me. This one’s for the whole entire world right now,” said Usman following the win.
“I heard all week, all month, since the fight got signed, everyone was like, ‘oh Colby’s in his head. Colby’s this. Cobly’s that. He’s going to gas out and fight emotional.’ I’m telling you guys right now the reason that I’m the best in the world is because my mind is stronger than everyone in the division.”
Covington’s persona has made him a polarizing figure in Combat sports. He’s one of the most hated fighters and that doesn’t bother him. Playing the antagonist has benefited his career. Behind all the trash talk, Covington is a world class fighter. Usman acknowledged that during his post-fight interview.
“I’ll give him his props. He was tough. He was tough as nails. He caught me a few times, but like I said, my mind is stronger than all these guys. I can prevail. It’s nothing but adversity,” he said. “I keep marching forward. I step right over that adversity and we keep going.”