Kamaru Usman Beats Colby Covington Via Decision to Retain Title at UFC 268

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: (R-L) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Colby Covington in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title once again with a unanimous-decision win over Colby Covington in their title fight rematch at UFC 268 from Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday.

The fight was once again a back-and-forth affair, but Usman proved to be just one step ahead of the challenge from Covington.

The first round immediately looked different than the first showdown between the two welterweights. No one attempted a takedown in the first fight while both went to their wrestling roots against their opponent with Usman getting the better of the exchanges.

UFC @ufc

Grappling early in round 1️⃣ [ #UFC268 | We’re LIVE on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/xRVlqJBhNX ] https://t.co/th99OOMWsW

The champion dialed up the pressure in the second round. The disparity between the two when it comes to striking became even more apparent as the Nigerian Nightmare settled in. He nearly ended the fight with a left hook to close out the second round.

UFC @ufc

THE CHAMP DROPS COVINGTON AT THE END OF ROUND 2️⃣ [ #UFC268 | We’re LIVE on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/xRVlqJBhNX ] https://t.co/XudVqRqp9d

While Usman's punches clearly had an impact on Covington, Chaos was seemingly unable to rock the champion even when he landed cleanly.

UFC @ufc

Combo lands clean for Chaos 🧼 [ #UFC268 | We’re LIVE on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/xRVlqJBhNX ] https://t.co/QN2aVelSmq

He did, however, nearly become the first person to take down Usman in the third round.

UFC @ufc

Drama level increasing after round 3 👀 [ #UFC268 | We’re LIVE on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/xRVlqJBhNX ] https://t.co/80mChVQiH0

He was ultimately unsuccessful but it was a sign of what was to come from the challenger. Despite losing the first two rounds handily he kept coming forward and trying to make it a competitive fight.

The fifth and final round was more of the same as both fighters tried to finish strong with the fight potentially tied at two rounds apiece. Covington landed some early heavy blows but went for a takedown that was immediately stuffed.

UFC Canada @UFC_CA

Colby landing BIG shots in the fifth!! 💥 #UFC268 https://t.co/1OxLypJz1Z

Ultimately, the first fight looked a whole lot like the first with the exception of Usman finding a finish in the fifth round. These two were built to challenge each other and they have now put together 10 high-quality rounds.

Usman has been well-established now as the best welterweight on the planet, and this win is just further proof. The first fight between him and Covington was a barnburner, but Usman had the upper hand in that one too, finishing him in the fifth round.

Covington talked and worked his way to a rematch with a fifth-round TKO of his own over Tyron Woodley but still wasn't up to the task of unseating the champion.

Usman's title reign might not have the length of other greats like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, but his ability to stay busy and beat the top names in his division has been impressive.

Of course, there are still challenges out there. Khamzat Chimaev continues to climb the ranks in the division. Leon Edwards could be on the horizon if he gets past Jorge Masvidal in December.

But those fighters better make their case soon. The 34-year-old has begun talking like a fighter who is considering retirement in the not-so-distant future.

"As far as me [fighting Chimaev], you know I'm in a point in life to where I understand how much this takes from you," the champion told reporters at media day. "I've been nine weeks now away from my daughter, and FaceTime does help, but it doesn't do it justice, as far as being there each and every day. So obviously I don't know how much longer I'm willing to do this."

Usman's dominance has been fun to watch and an intriguing storyline in the division, but it sounds like fans should be enjoying it as long as it lasts.