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Kamaru Usman Defeats Colby Covington by 5th Round TKO at UFC 245

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 14:  (R-L) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria strikes Colby Covington in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Kamaru Usman successfully retained his welterweight championship belt with a fifth-round TKO win over Colby Covington in the main event of UFC 245 in Las Vegas. 

The two fighters engaged in an all-out war for nearly five full rounds before Usman put the exclamation point on his defense. 

The two wasted no time in getting to work on one another. Usman's more precise counter-punching was met with Covington's high-volume attack and Chaos took the lead with some left crosses that landed cleanly in a competitive opening frame. 

UFC @ufc

FURIOUS pace early in R1! 💥 Usman and Covington couldn't wait to get their hands on each other! #UFC245 https://t.co/6YyVKE0RIi

After all the hype around both combatants wrestling, there was not a takedown to be seen in the early going. 

The slugging continued in the second stanza. Usman found success with his right jab and lead leg kicks while Covington stayed with the left hand as the two went Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots on one another.

UFC @ufc

Ridiculous exchanges midway through R2! 🔥 The bad blood is LEGIT. #UFC245 https://t.co/1MFj1099FQ

The pure volume of Chaos contrasted with Usman's powerful strikes to make it an interesting round to score. 

Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi

Glares exchanged between the two of them at the end of the second. Another entertaining round. Probably for Covington again 10-9, which would make it 20-18 for him. Usman is digging to the body nicely, though. #UFC245

The fight took a turn in favor of the champion in the third. His work to Covington's body paid off as the pace was much slower and the champion was able to go to work. The challenger started in on Usman, but even that was short lived as an accidental eye poke halted the action temporarily. 

Covington told his corner after the third round that he believed his jaw was broken, but opted to fight on into the championship rounds. 

ESPN MMA @espnmma

"I think I broke my jaw." @ColbyCovMMA is compromised entering the championship rounds #UFC245 https://t.co/nZTwXThtPY

Regardless of the possible injury, the two came out swinging in the fourth. Neither fighter backed down as both swung heavy leather in another razor close round. 

UFC @ufc

And STILL they swing back and forth! Usman and Covington with an unbelievable championship pace! 🏆 #UFC245 https://t.co/ucac2XUEP8

With the fight potentially on the line Usman showcased a champion's will. After a close start to the round The Nigerian Nightmare finally connected with a right hand that put Covington down and followed up with enough strikes to end the bout late in the fifth round. 

The win gives Usman the first successful title defense of his career. He wrested the title away from longtime champion Tyron Woodley in March. Covington came into the bout ranked as the No. 1 contender for the belt outside of the former champion. 

Usman's rise to the top of the division has been marked by dominant performances. He is now a perfect 11-0 in the UFC and has taken on some of the top talents the division has to offer in Woodley, Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia. 

The Nigerian Nightmare has some options for his next fight in the welterweight division. Jorge Masvidal stands out as a top candidate after his victory over Nate Diaz. However, Usman is eyeing a location rather than a specific opponent for his 2020 schedule. 

"My 2020 looks like [I'll be] taking the belt back home," the champ said, per Kristen King of FanSided. "Beginning of next year, being in Africa with my belt and really just having the people embrace the fact that someone like them has done it and is doing it on the main stage."

As long as Usman holds on to the belt, he's going to have the opportunity to main-event big pay-per-views. If the UFC has any desire to expand its offerings to a new continent, Usman might be just the man to carry that card. 

He definitely took a step toward that end on Saturday night.