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Here’s everything that happened at UFC 268 last night

UFC 268: Usman v Covington 2 Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Last night (Sat., Nov. 6, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) journeyed to Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York for UFC 268. For the second time in as many weeks, two title fights graced the top of a major event outside of the UFC Apex! Last night’s card featured nothing but quality match ups on the main card, and there were some great scraps on the preliminary portion of the night too.

Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:

Kamaru Usman, Welterweight King

Usman did not have an easy fight last night, but the champion also remained in control for a large portion of the fight against an absolutely elite Welterweight contender in Colby Covington.

I think, for the most part, the fight played out as many expected. Covington was a bit sharper and defensively tighter, but that was not a true answer for Usman’s power. He also tried to wrestle more often — that was definitely a takedown in the third round — but Usman was a brick wall. In the mean time, Usman’s jab and body work did damage, and his power kept Covington from getting too crazy.

The fight really got interesting in the second half when Covington came alive. Did Usman get a bit tired or was Covington merely able to find his rhythm? Whatever the case, Covington genuinely hurt the champion more consistently than anyone else in the fourth round, and Usman demonstrated his championship grit.

I am curious about Usman’s future. His last three title defenses have seen him opting to out-strike his opponents, but if he’s forced to return to a grinding strategy for five rounds vs. a superior striker, does the 34 year old still have that option?

Not Quite A Classic

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili 2 was an interesting fight, but it never quite had the majorly dramatic moments of a great one.

I liked Zhang’s strategy. The Chinese athlete did good work with his chopping low kicks, and relying on her physicality in the clinch to score takedowns was a smart play. However, Namajunas very smartly made use of her range advantage and excellent control of distance. Seriously, Namajunas’ footwork is by far her division’s best.

Early on, Zhang was winning. Her low kicks were landing well, the wild exchanges tended to favor her, and she racked up some top control time. However, Zhang was much less efficient with her energy and missed a lot of punches — credit that “Thug Rose” footwork! — while also forcing her wrestling efforts.

That inefficiency seemed to bite her in the championship rounds. Twice, Namajunas was able to secure top position and stay there for long periods of time, securing the final two rounds. The action in those moments wasn’t amazing, but Namajunas did what was necessary to turn an early deficit into a victory.

Inevitable

No one wanted Frankie Edgar to defy the odds more than me, a certified “Answer” fanboy.

Unfortunately, Marlon Vera was just so much more dangerous. The first round went about as well as possible for Edgar, as he landed good combinations, a strong takedown, and several elbows on the mat. However, nothing Edgar threw really seemed to bother “Chito.” Vera is an athlete who builds momentum over time, whereas Edgar seemed to be slowing after the first despite his legendary conditioning.

That’s the simple reality of being a 40-year-old Bantamweight. Edgar fought gamely to keep the match in his control, but the end result of Vera connecting on a major shot seemed inevitable well before it happened.

Bad Timing

On any other night, Shane Burgos vs. Billy Quarantillo is a “Fight of the Night” winner that brings the audience to their feet for 15 straight minutes. Unfortunately, that excellent scrap was severely overshadowed by the slugfest of the century between Justin Gaethje and Mike Chandler (more on that HERE!), so it didn’t receive quite the acclaim it deserved.

Real fans will remember though: Burgos vs. Quaranillo was a SCRAP!

Pereira Lives Up To The Hype

It’s not easy to transition from elite kickboxing to elite MMA. The distance and defense are different, and the grappling elements completely change the conditioning game. It’s not as simple as learning to sprawl — everything has to be revamped at least a bit.

Alex Pereira is on the right track. His opponent gamely tried to force a wrestling match, and he even found success with moments of control. However, Pereira conserved his energy and remained lethal into the second, landing a brilliant jump knee to immediately end his opponent.

I don’t know if Pereira is the man to dethrone Israel Adesanya, but the UFC Middleweight division is surely better off with him involved.

The Long Awaited Entrance Of Action Man

Chris Curtis has been grinding on the regional scene for years and years. He won via highlight reel knockout on “Contenders Series” but didn’t secure a contract. He entered PFL’s million dollar tournament and lost to the two top stars at Welterweight, leaving his future uncertain. Finally, Curtis secured his opportunity, a short-notice opening up a weight class against a talented prospect in Phil Hawes. Safe to say, the odds were not on his side.

Hawes started beautifully. His combinations were flowing, and he clearly had plenty of power behind his kicks and punches. Curtis was rendered largely defensive, but to his credit, he maintained his composure and kept his guard high, limiting the damage.

Somewhere in the second half of the round, “Action Man” started to find his rhythm just as Hawes perhaps slowed from his insane output. He dug a few times to the body nicely. Then, Curtis noticed his foe’s right hand dropping when he threw the left hook, and Curtis dropped his own hook straight on the jawline.

For anyone who knew a bit of Curtis’ story, it was a real feelgood moment.

Rise Of Imavov

Nassourdine Imavov didn’t make much of an impression in his first two UFC appearances, but the 25-year-old Russian has really come alive in his last two wins. Stopping Ian Heinisch is one thing, but Imavov absolutely spanked Edmen Shahbazyan last night.

Shahbazyan did not look comfortable for a single second opposite Imavov. He’s a skilled striker with genuine knockout power, but Imavov’s boxing had him backing off from a lot of exchanges and convinced him to shoot repeatedly in the second. Imavov nearly secured the power guillotine on at least three occasions, but the submission threat did reverse him into top position. All the wrestling fatigued Shahbazyan too, leaving him vulnerable to a brutal series of elbows from the crucifix position.

Simply nasty work from Imavov, who’s very much looking like a Top 10 Middleweight all of a sudden.

Garry’s Highlight Reel Debut

Ian Garry entered the UFC with a fair bit of hype, but for the first four minutes of the fight, his introduction to US fans wasn’t going all that well. Jordan Williams is fairly unheralded, but the “Contenders Series” product was taking it to the young Irishman, landing some pretty stiff left hands and solid kick counters.

The former Cage Warriors champ was looking a bit red and puffy.

However, Williams was getting sloppy. He was doing well catching his opponent moving backwards, but he stopped throwing in combination and starting lunging. Garry got the timing and was able to land perfectly with a pull counter, definitely drawing forth the spirit of McGregor a bit to score a beautiful knockout.

Not bad for 23 years of age.

A Rough Retirement Send

Gian Villante announced prior to his bout vs. Chris Barnett that he would retire afterward, but based on his physique, the New Yorker dug into the celebratory cheesecake early.

Despite a bigger belly than ever before, Villante did well early. He controlled range with his long right kick to the belly and inner thigh. Barnett couldn’t really find his range, landing very few punches in the first frame.

Based on “Huggy Bear’s” 5’9” frame, Villante could be forgiven for failing to foresee a wheel kick coming at his ear. The wild spinning kick completely reversed fortunes, scoring Barnett his first UFC victory and denying Villante a storybook ending.

Additional Thoughts

Bobby Green defeats Al Iaquinta via first-round knockout: There is a huge advantage to activity. A couple years ago, this likely would’ve been a really competitive fight. Instead, Green has been fighting a whole bunch while Iaquinta has been sideline, and the result was dramatic. Green immediately was the faster fighter with the better timing, while Iaquinta tried to force the action. As a result, Iaquinta repeatedly walked into hard counters, and one such cross put him down for good.

For complete UFC 268: “Usman vs Covington 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!