The welterweight rivalry between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington reached far beyond the eight caged walls of the UFC octagon, but Usman definitively asserted his dominance with a late TKO finish as he retained his UFC welterweight title against the trash-talking former interim champ at UFC 245.
Covington was booed and jeered to the cage as he walked out to Kurt Angle’s famous WWE walkout song, and those same fans were cheering as, after four back-and-forth rounds that saw both men tested, Usman made the crucial breakthrough to finish his rival in the final minute of the bout at T-Mobile Arena.
Covington looked to overwhelm Usman with his pace early, but the champion kept his cool and picked his shots well as he preserved his energy for the full five-round duration.
The action was well-contested, with Covington looking to outwork the champion, while Usman’s shots appeared to connect with more power. With the bout entering the final round, the bout appeared to be hanging in the balance, and it was Usman who managed to find an extra gear when it mattered most.
Having already broken Covington’s jaw, Usman loaded up his shots and dropped the challenger to the canvas. Spying his opportunity, the champion moved in and unloaded a barrage of ground strikes. Covington attempted a single-leg takedown, but was unable to stem the tide of punishment coming from the champion and referee Marc Goddard stopped in to call a stop to the bout with 50 seconds remaining.
Goddard’s decision incensed Covington, who left the octagon in disgust, leaving Usman to take the plaudits after one of the best performances of his career.
Usman (17-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) returns to action against Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC 258, which takes place Feb. 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event streams on pay-per-view on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.