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UFC 268: Kamaru Usman pulls out unanimous decision over Colby Covington to retain welterweight title

Kamaru Usman-Colby Covington (Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Colby Covington certainly gave it his all but Kamaru Usman stepped out of the Octagon at Madison Square Garden as the winner and still welterweight champion.

Usman dropped Covington with two punishing left hands in the second round to power his way toward a unanimous decision victory Saturday night. Judges saw it 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46 for Usman, clearly crediting "The Nigerian Nightmare" for that impactful round and more. With the victory, Usman pushed the longest active winning streak in the UFC to 19.

Although Usman threatened the finish by knocking Covington down twice with huge shots in the second round, Covington stormed back with a spirited performance the rest of the way through.

Using his noted cardio, he repeatedly caught the champion with lunging right hands and combinations — some wobbling Usman — to go the distance and leave it in judges' hands which eventually scored the fight for the titleholder.

That being said, Usman gave his bitter rival respect following their second fight in less than two years.

"He's a tough son of a bitch," Usman told Joe Rogan in the Octagon. "I knew with a guy like this, he was going to creep back in this.

"When you share an Octagon with someone this tough, you can't help it," Usman continued referring to the handshake he extended toward Covington after the bout. "That respect is going to."

He finished his interview with Rogan by declaring himself the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

And Covington couldn't deny that at least for Saturday night.

"I had my moments," Covington said. "I wobbled him a couple times at the end of the round and I wasn't able to capitalize. It was his night. He had a better night."

Here's how the entire UFC 268 main card went.

 

 

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Usman pulls out unanimous decision

Judges score it 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46 all in favor of your winner ... and STILL champion Kamaru Usman. Off the second round knockdowns alone, one can definitely see it going this way. Make it 19 straight wins for "The Nigerian Nightmare."

"He's a tough son of a bitch," Usman said. "I knew with a guy like this, he was going to creep back in this.

"When you share an Octagon with someone this tough, you can't help it," Usman continued referring to the handshake the fighters shared after the bout.

He finished his interview with Joe Rogan declaring himself the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

"It was his night," Covington said. "He had a better night."

Usman vs. Covington 2; Round 5

Covington steps in and splits Usman's guard with a right hand that lands. Usman digs a left into Covington's midsection. Covington with a hard right. Usman with a left. Covington comes back with a right. Oh my. They're on the mat with Usman pressing Covington down with a headlock. And now they spring back to their feet. Both fighters looking for offense. Covington lands a punch and rushes Usman, pressing the champ up against the Octagon. Under two minutes left. Action pauses due to an accidental eye poke. Action resumes with under 30 seconds left. Covington lands a clipping left. The champ and Covington shake hands. Covington might have just pulled it out. Let's see how judges have this one. (10-9 Covington, 47-47 Covington)

Usman vs. Covington 2; Round 4

When Covington stands upright and swings, he's missing a lot. But when he lunges forward, he's finding offense. Covington blasts Usman with a right to the chest that brushes the champ back. Usman stings Covington with a jab. A hard right-left combination lands for Covington, who seems to be gaining momentum and really digging back from that painful second round. Usman is showing a champion's chin. Covington catches Usman with another right hand, but the champ ducks under the pressure and works his way forward. He wobbles the champ in the final seconds with another stiff right hand on the jaw. A solid round for Covington. All knotted up on my scorecard heading into the fifth and final round. (10-9 Covington, 38-37)

Usman vs. Covington 2; Round 3

Covington lands a right hand of his own a minute in. The champ sneaks in a left jab and now fires away with two rights. Covington comes back with a right hand but gets stuffed on a takedown attempt. Usman was all over that one. They're back on their feet with both men swinging and missing. Usman advances forward and plants a left hand straight down the middle. Both fighters exchange punches with an overhand left from Usman the best of the trade. Covington briefly wobbles Usman with a right hand and now works toward a takedown. He gets it as time runs out in the round. Usman flashes a smile to mock Covington. (10-9 Covington, 29-27 Usman)

Usman vs. Covington 2; Round 2

Covington fires a front kick, which Usman catches and rifles a punch back. Covington lunges forward, looking for a takedown but Usman halts the attempt. Strategic, tense opening moments to this fight. Both fighters sticking the jab out there without quite finding paydirt. Usman briefly has an underhook cinched in with his back against the Octagon. Slow moving second round but the pace is starting to pick up a bit. Both fighters are missing their punches quite a bit. I say that and Usman blasts Covington with a hard left hand and drops him! The champ rushes him and peppers him with a big left. Covington is in big trouble and Usman clobbers him with another left hand. Covington tastes the canvas again. The round ends but big impact from the champ. (10-8 Usman, 20-17 Usman)

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2; Round 1

Both fighters trying to feel each other out. Usman brushes Covington back with a jab. And another as the crowd trades chants for each fighter. Covington plants a right hand into Usman's chest. Covington goes for the takedown but the champ uses his momentum against him and scores a rolling takedown himself.

They're back on their feet as Covington misses wildly on an uppercut. Covington lands a hard right on the top of Usman's head as the champ closes space. Despite these moments, both fighters seem a bit tentative early on. Two minutes left. Usman sticks out that jab. Seconds later, he takes Covington off his feet and slams him down to the canvas for another takedown. Usman catches Covington with a lunging right hand. Thirty seconds left. "F—k you, Colby!" chants break out. Usman takes the first and gives Covington a hard stare as the opening frame ends. (10-9 Usman)

Covington, Usman formally introduced

Bruce Buffer introduces Covington and Usman and both fighters receive a mixed reaction, so the crowd must be a bit split. Here we go.

The champ is here

With the Nigerian flag draped across his shoulders proudly, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is making his way to the Octagon. He defeated Jorge Masvidal twice. Can he make it 2-0 over Covington and extend his winning streak to 19? We're about to find out.

Here comes Covington

Covington strolls out to Kurt Angle's WWE theme, with the MSG crowd right on cue peppering him with "you suck" chants. Covington somersaults into the Octagon to mixed reaction.

Main event time

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2 for Usman's welterweight championship is upon us. Usman handed Covington a fifth-round TKO (punches) back in December 2019.

Namajunas edges Weili by split decision

After five rounds, judges' scorecards have it 48-47 for Weili, 48-47 for Namajunas and 49-46 for Namajunas. Thug Rose is the winner and still women's strawweight world champion.

What started out as a more free-flowing fight slowed down and became a battle of attrition with Namajunas generating the more impactful offense and moments.

Namajunas vs Weili 2; Round 5

This is it. Fight pauses as Namajunas forgets her mouthpiece. She gets it and the fight resumes. "Let's go Rose" chants break out and the champ responds by taking Weili down right on cue. 

Namajunas sneaks in some punches from top control, as Weili tries to cover up. She sneaks in some more for good measure. Left hand from the top lands as well. Two minutes left. One minute and Namajunas remains on top, looking to unleash offense. Thirty seconds remaining. Namajunas stands up and backs up off of Weili, who remains on her back. Now, the champ dives back onto the top contender and that's how the round — and maybe the fight — ends: With Namajunas on top. Let's see how judges score this one. (10-9 Namajunas, 48-47 Namajunas)

Namajunas vs Weili 2; Round 4

Fighters punch at the same time with Weili landing a hard left hand. Namajunas slips to the canvas but fires some lightning-quick, slicing heel kicks to drop Weili, who stumbles backward. Both fighters are back on their feet, but Weili spins around and has taken Namajunas' back once again. Weili again going for the rear-naked choke, but Namajunas gets out of it. Weili just doesn't have enough control over the champ. Now, Namajunas with top control. Weili protecting herself quite well from the bottom, making sure to not absorb punishment. The champ still has top control with 30 seconds left. And it stays that way until the round's end. Lower on action, but Namajunas banks another. (10-9 Namajunas; 38-38)

Namajunas vs Weili 2; Round 3

Front kick grazes Weili in the opening seconds. Leg kick from the champ ricochets off Weili's thigh. Thug Rose stalking Weili around the Octagon now. Another leg kick lands from Namajunas. And she sneaks in a right hand now, too. Namajunas drops Weili with a stinging right hand. She hones in and peppers the No. 1 contender with a quick combination as well, before Weili desperately and successfully gets back up on her feet. One minute left in the round. Weili misses with a punch and Namajunas makes her pay with a combination the other way. Now Weili lands a stinging jab. Weili takes the champ down and now has her back. Namajunas spins out of a potential rear-naked choke. And spins out some more.

Weili makes the end of the round close but Namajunas takes it. (10-9 Namajunas, 29-28 Weili)

Namajunas vs Weili 2; Round 2

Leg kick and slick punch upstairs from Weili. Thug Rose just misses on a punch seconds later. Front kick attempt from Namajunas misses. Weili closes space and connects on a hard right hand. And another. Both just miss trying to trade fire. Namajunas with a slick right hand that lands. Leg kick from Thug Rose follows. Big left hand from Weili has Namajunas stumbling backwards. Weili has a hold of Namajunas' foot and takes her down. The champ responds with a heel kick. Namajunas back up to her feet and is kneeing Weili in the midsection. Now, Namajunas takes Weili down with just over 20 seconds left. She has top control but struggles to let loose with impactful offense. A close round but one that Weili takes with a slight edge. (10-9 Weili, 20-18 Weili)

Co-Main Event: Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili 2; Round 1

Namajunas opens looking to close the distance. Namajunas and Weili both firing and missing, as they're trying to feel each other out in the opening minute. Namajunas connects on a flurry of punches, but Weili moves out of harm's way. Namajunas lands a lunging right hand and adds a quick combination as well. The champ and No. 1 contender spill to the ground courtesy of a Weili takedown. Weili asserts top control, looking for something more. Weili rains down with a hard right hand as Namajunas is on her back. Now, the champ is back on her feet and raking Weili across the face with an elbow before eating a knee to the body. Weili with a body kick now as well. Leg kick from Weili follows moments later. (10-9 Weili)

Here comes Thug Rose

NYC is giving it up for the strawweight champ.

Zhang Weili out to a chorus of boos

It's clear this crowd is pro Namajunas.

Co-main event time

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili 2 is on deck. Their original meeting had Namajunas blasting Weili into another orbit with a scathing head kick for the first-round KO back in April. Can Namajunas pull off another finish? Or will Weili avenge the loss and regain the women's strawweight championship? We're about to find out.

"Chito" unloads the boom with big KO

Vera connects on a vicious front kick to pop Edgar's chin and head back. Edgar hits the canvas with a thud and the ref ends it right there on a third-round knockout. Stellar performance against a legend from Vera.

That front kick was perfectly placed. Vera unleashed it as if it was going to be aimed at Edgar's midsection before continuing to travel north right under the veteran's chin.

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