Kamaru Usman retained his welterweight title in a hard-fought unanimous-decision victory over Colby Covington to cap off UFC 268 from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
After finishing Covington in the fifth round in their first fight, it looked like the champion was ready for the same result on an accelerated timeline. After a competitive first round Usman was on fire in the second. He found a home for multiple hard punches, including a pair of left hooks that floored Covington.
But he wasn't quite able to finish the fight before the bell rang and that was all that Covington needed to work his way back into the fight.
Chaos continued to stay in the fight long enough to make the championship rounds interesting and force close scorecards.
Ultimately, it was another example of just how tough Usman is. He's shown the ability to beat the top names in his division including elite strikers, great grapplers and submission specialists.
It was a fitting end to a wild night of fights that included a Fight of the Year contender to kick off the card and a fast-paced featherweight affair before Usman and Rose Namajunas defended their belts.
- Kamaru Usman (c) def. Colby Covington via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
- Rose Namajunas (c) def. Weili Zhang via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46).
- Marlon Vera def. Frankie Edgar via third-round knockout (3:50).
- Shane Burgos def. Billy Quarantillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
- Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
- Alex Pereira def. Andreas Michailids via second-round knockout (0:18).
- Bobby Green def. Al Iaquinta via first-round TKO (2:25).
- Chris Curtis def. Phil Hawes via first-round TKO (4:27).
- Nassourdine Imavov def. Edmen Shahbazyan via second-round TKO (4:42).
- Ian Garry def. Jordan Williams via first-round knockout (4:59).
- Chris Barnett def. Gian Villante via second-round TKO (2:23).
- Dustin Jacoby def. John Allan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
- Melsik Baghdasaryan def. Bruno Souza via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
- Ode Osbourne def. CJ Vergara via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili
Zhang Weili came up just short in her bid to avenge her only loss in the UFC against strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. The two fought in an incredibly close five-round fight that saw the incumbent champion win the fight on two scorecards.
Namajunas was able to land a head-kick knockout in the first round of their first fight but this win was much more difficult. Thug Rose seemed to have the advantage on the striking from range, but Zhang was much more aggressive with her wrestling this time around.
Zhang landed a nice left hand that rocked Namajunas at one point and had several good takedowns.
However, Namajunas had moments of her own, including the fifth round in which she scored an early takedown and spent the rest of the round controlling the challenger.
They shouldn't fight three times in a row, but the close nature of the rematch is going to generate interest in a rubber match. Namajunas is now 2-0, but if she's able to take care of business against Carla Esparza or another contender and Zhang is able to bounce back in another fight we could see this matchup sooner than later.
Marlon 'Chito' Vera def. Frankie Edgar
Marlon "Chito" Vera channeled his inner Anderson Silva to score a third-round TKO win over former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in the third round.
The 40-year-old Edgar got off to a strong start. He made the first round competitive and landed a takedown that looked like the old-school version of the champ.
Those moments were overshadowed by the advantage that Vera held in the striking. When the fight moved to the second round his advantage there began to shine. In the third he landed the front kick that turned out the lights on Edgar.
For Vera, this adds another well-known name to his resume. For Edgar, this might be the latest sign that he needs to look at his options for his post-fighting career. He has been finished in four of his past seven fights.
Shane Burgos def. Billy Quarantillo
Following up the instant classic between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler was a big ask for featherweights Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo, but the two certainly tried to compete for Fight of the Night.
The two combined to land 357 significant strikes in a fight could have gone either way. Ultimately, Burgos got the nod from the judges, winning 29-28 on all three scorecards.
Quarantillo brought a good game plan and had success using his boxing, but Burgos was able to utilize calf kicks to hinder his movement and land the harder shots. But both fighters got their shots in.
Burgos will likely hold on to his top 15 ranking after taking on a tough challenge in the unranked Quarantillo. Coming off back-to-back losses to Josh Emmett and Edson Barboza, he desperately needed this one.
Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler
Justin Gaethje always puts on a great show. Michael Chandler is no stranger to a slugfest. The lightweights were expected to put on a fight fans would love, and they didn't disappoint.
The two started off the fight with a monster first round in which both threw strikes that would have knocked out inferior opponents. Gaethje started working the leg kicks early and Chandler was ready to return the favor with body blows and his own knockout punches.
The second round was a big one for Gaethje. While the action was back-and-forth in the first frame, his heavy punches started landing with more regularity as he continued to chop the lead leg of Chandler. At one point, Gaethje nearly ended the fight with a flush uppercut.
Chandler showed off his own toughness in surviving the round and coming back to make the third round another competitive one.
With the win Gaethje stays in the title picture. He was coming off a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title, but with the Eagle now retired he has a good case to be considered for a shot at gold again.