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