Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight rivals Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington will go to war once more TONIGHT (Sat., Nov. 6, 2021) at UFC 268 inside Madison Square Garden in N.Y., New York.
This match up really has it all. On one hand, these guys definitely hate each other. Even if you’re of the opinion that Covington’s schtick is just that, he’s said enough foul nonsense that Usman really wants to break his jaw ... again. Then, there’s the history of the fight, and unlikely and incredible stand up brawl that the first match up produced. There’s an element of unknown given Covington’s year on the sidelines with a new team behind him.
Finally, there’s the simple fact that it’s a title fight between the consensus first and second best Welterweights on the planet right now. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Colby Covington (UFC 245), Gilbert Burns (UFC 258), Jorge Masvidal (UFC 261, UFC 251), Tyron Woodley (UFC 235), Demian Maia (UFC Fight Night 129), Rafael dos Anjos (TUF 28 Finale), Leon Edwards (UFC on FOX 17), Sean Strickland (UFC 210)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: When it comes to Usman, skills are secondary to his success. That’s not a knock or an implication that Usman is unpolished; it’s a simple acknowledgement of Usman’s incredible strength, conditioning, and general physicality.
In the first match, Usman won the war of attrition with body work and power. After softening up the mid-section for several rounds, Usman slowed his foe down enough to unload with his cross and end the contest.
It was a great strategy, but he took a lot of shots in the process. Based on Usman’s development, he no longer has to engage Covington in such a straightforward scrap. That’s not to say body shots are suddenly a bad idea — that’s almost never the case — but is Usman is moving well and feint, he can drop heavy right hands on Covington at a much better exchange rate.
Covington is not a subtle striker. Provided Usman has the patience and smarts to remain collected and focused, he should be able to set up his right hand and power jabs without having to dive into the fray to do so.
Key Wins: Tyron Woodley (UFC Vegas 11), Robbie Lawler (UFC on ESPN 5), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 225), Demian Maia (UFC Fight Night 119), Dong Hyun Kim (UFC Fight Night 111), Bryan Barberena (UFC on FOX 22)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 245), Warlley Alves (UFC 194)
Keys to Victory: Covington remains the Welterweight king of volume. Whether it’s takedowns or punches, “Chaos” simply does not stop, and it does seem like his new team at MMA Masters has him sitting down more on his punches.
In the first bout, Covington did really good work with his left kick. He landed well to the mid-section and especially the legs, a smart tactic given Usman’s arthritic knees. There is definitely no reason to abandon that success in this rematch. In fact, Covington should be looking to build upon it. He had some nice moments vs. Woodley transitioning from kicks to punches, and those were powerful lands.
Otherwise, I think Covington would be wise to mix in at least a couple real takedown attempts. He doesn’t have to actually get Usman down, but if he can at least add the threat of the level change into his offense, it might go a long way in lowering Usman’s guard.
Finally, I’d like to see a bit more in-and-out movement from Covington. He cannot afford to take all those body shots this time around, so it’s imperative that “Chaos” doesn’t give his opponent such an easy target.
The odds may have shifted further to Usman’s favorite, but this is still a great match up and real threat to his throne.
Usman is the pound-for-pound king, and he’s quickly racked up an impressive trio of title defenses to cap off his current 14-0 run inside the Octagon. It’s hugely impressive work, enough to get the Georges St. Pierre comparisons brewing. However, Usman has also hinted at a potential retirement, as well as a crossover into the boxing ring.
Whatever Usman’s future goals, they likely are easier if he pummels Covington again.
As for “Chaos,” he’s in the prime of his career and has a second chance to prove himself the better man. The stakes are as high as they get — where does Covington go if he loses a second time? It really is belt or bust for the grinding wrestler, who has certainly talked himself into a must-win position.
At UFC 268, Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington will meet in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 268 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPNEWS/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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