Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight rivals Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will clash TONIGHT (Sat., March 5, 2022) at UFC 272 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I’ll admit to being something of a cynic regarding supposed bad blood, friends-turned-foes, and professional fighters being “afraid” of each other — all the standard trappings of fight promotion. Typically, when the main card headliner is an apparent grudge match, I’m still more intrigued by the stylistic clash than any of the additional drama, often immediately resolved before the judges’ scorecards are read.
Covington vs. Masvidal is an exception. I tried to write off the drama as a WWE-style storyline, but the two have held the farce for impressively long if that’s the case. There’s been so many low blows between them and actual consequences to the beef that I’ve fully bought in. I’m ready for a bad blood fueled scrap between elite Welterweight contenders, and I’m hoping for a less-than-gracious post-fight interview afterward.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
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 268, UFC 245), Warlley Alves (UFC 194)
Keys to Victory: Fighting Covington is a miserable experience. “Chaos” is one of the best in the world at weaponizing pace, forcing opponents into reactive shells with constant kickboxing and wrestling activity. Once Covington gets a hold on his opponent, it’s real tough to break that grip.
Is there any doubt about Covington’s strategy tonight? His kickboxing has improved, sure, but Masvidal is going to try to take his head off. That’s a bad trade for the All-American wrestler, who’s never shown the kind of pop that could earn Masvidal’s respect in stand up exchanges.
Like he did opposite Robbie Lawler, starting the fight with a wrestling barrage would be wise. Even composed, powerful hitters like Lawler and Masvidal do not throw with the same pop after being forced to grapple for minutes at a time. Covington may not be able to fully establish top position immediately, but starting the grind process early will pay off.
As Masvidal slows, everything opens up. Covington’s kicks will start landing more often, his jab will land, and the takedown entries will get easier, too. This is a fight where Covington is more and more likely to succeed as time goes on, so wrestling through the dangerous early moments would be wise.
Key Wins: Ben Askren (UFC 239), Darren Till (UFC Fight Night 147), Nate Diaz (UFC 244), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 23), James Krause (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 261, UFC 251), Demian Maia (UFC 211), Stephen Thompson (UFC 217), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 79)
Keys to Victory: Masvidal has been a very technically skilled fighter for the last decade, really able to do it all at a high level even if a title run eluded him. When “Gamebred” combined that proficiency with an increased killer instinct and aggression, Masvidal shot up the rankings and became one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Masvidal has to stop Covington’s forward advance. If “Chaos” is able to step to him and start wrestling whenever he pleases, it doesn’t matter good Masvidal’s takedown defense is, as he’ll still cough up control time and start getting fatigued in the process.
Funny enough, Masvidal has to take a page from Usman’s book. In his first fight versus Covington especially, “The Nigerian Nightmare” did great work to the body, sticking Covington with body jabs and front kicks. Masvidal should be looking to do the same, firing shots that Covington will have a difficult time walking through.
As a boxer, Masvidal should be looking to build combinations of the body jab and cross to the chest. If he can start sneaking his left hook around the guard, that’s a potential knockout blow, and one that can also grant Masvidal an advantageous angle where the takedown is of little concern.
Smart shot selection is the key to keeping Covington off him.
Personal motivations aside, the winner returns to the title mix.
Between the two, Covington has a much better shot at securing a third dance with Usman. The first two fights were both hugely entertaining and competitive, a pair of major selling points that make a rubber match palatable. A big win here confirms Covington as one of the best Welterweights in the world, and it sets him up for another important fight against someone like Vicente Luque or Belal Muhammad.
Masvidal’s path forward is less clear. With Usman as champion, another Welterweight title shot appears impossible. Win or lose, it seems more likely that Masvidal attempts to maximize his star power and that fancy new contract in pursuit of money fights, like a Nate Diaz rematch or showdown vs. Conor McGregor.
At UFC 272, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington will go to war in the main event. Which man is victorious in their feud?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 272 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 ESPN/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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