What a tremendous event UFC 268 turned out to be. For the sake of brevity, I would like to focus on the outstanding main event that featured welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defeating challenger Colby Covington via a unanimous decision.
The rematch did not match the drama and fury of their first battle, the one in which Usman stopped Covington in round 5 of a wild fight that was tied until Usman ended the contest with his strong and accurate right hand punches. Last night we were treated to a more reserved but no less special sequel. So what remained the same and what changed?
Obviously MMAMania contributor Shakiel Majouri was wrong last Saturday when on Combat Culture's UFC 267 play-by-play show he said that he thought "Usman has improved while Colby hasn't". While the ultimate result is the same, the way we got there this time was not the same. And who has improved? The fighter who didn't need the judges the first time and did this time? Or the fighter who instead of being TKO'ed, goes the distance in another close fight?
Despite the champ's advantage in strength, Usman found Covington more elusive than last time and lost round one to the busier Covington on my scorecard.
Covington continued to smile and switch stances in round two, a tactic I didn't love because I felt like he was less effective offensively when standing orthodox. And perhaps Covington thought so after Usman rocked him late in round two with a hard straight punch to take it on my card.
Usman continued to pursue Covington with good straight punches to his body and head to begin the third round. Covington elected to stay lefty for the most part after the end of round two, rallying late with movement and combinations to steal round three on my card. Round four was much of the same. Usman with the pressure and Covington with occasional takedown attempts mixed into his lateral kickboxing movement. A more definitive round for Covington than the first and third in this fan's opinion.
The fight ended with Usman continuing to pursue Covington, who moved to his right (into Usman's left hand) landing more while controlling the distance and pace of the fight. Usman's corner advised him not to brawl but I thought he often did best work in this fight when he did let his fists fly, particularly in combination. I also felt like round five passed Usman by, and my scorecard reads 49-46 Covington after all the dust has settled.
The judges flipped my score and made it for Usman. I am not mad. Disagreements are a part of what makes life fun. Usman retained his title and once again proved what a great champion he is. And Covington showed why he is so highly regarded by so many fans. After the fight, it was clear these two fine martial-artists have gained a level of respect and appreciation for each other only fighters could truly understand. If Covington is not the best welterweight, at least he is in the discussion still. Let's see him and fellow contender Gilbert Burns dance. As for Usman, I think a Leon Edwards rematch is a good idea.
On a more personal note I am not surprised nor discouraged by MMAMania and company removing my previous two posts from MMAMania Tuesday. The proof is here. We have it. You saw what I wrote and responded kindly. That's what matters. I could care less for the rest. I think some of MMAMania's staff and their bosses are not so open-minded. The removal of my last two write ups ("The First Time I Ever Heard the "N Word": UFC 49" and "Why Matt Ryan Gets Emotional Everytime He Hears the Name Colby Covington"), both of which adhered to the "community guidelines" that I read (believe it or not) strongly indicates this to be the truth. Strangely, "The Keith Jardine Doppelganger" is still available for all to read.
Did you score Saturday night's main event? Who would you like to see Kamaru Usman fight next? I'll leave you with some words from martial-artist and actor Bruce Lee. Have a great week brothers. Until next week.
"This is what it is, okay. I said empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. Now, you put water into a cup it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or water can crash. Be water my friend."