This Saturday night will see one of the most anticipated rematches of the last few years go down when Kamaru Usman battles Colby Covington at UFC 268.
These two welterweight foes, to put it lightly, don’t like each other. They’ve had a deep rivalry that’s been ongoing for years, dating back to their first collision at UFC 245.
On that night, Usman was able to get the better of Covington and retain the UFC welterweight title. Now, almost 24 months later, they’ll main event the UFC’s annual Madison Square Garden spectacular.
There are plenty of elements to this fight that make it intriguing. Today, we’re going to run through three of the best.
The added power of Usman
Every UFC champion needs to grow and evolve to keep their place at the top of the mountain. The majority will stick to what got them to the dance, but when it comes to Kamaru Usman, he isn’t built that way.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” has been working closely with Trevor Wittman, and as a result, he’s only become stronger. The most significant benefit of that has been his striking which, it goes without saying, has improved massively.
This year, the wins over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal showcased a great jab, the ability to absorb big shots, power punches, and the kind of timing you only find at the elite level. If he catches Covington clean, a broken jaw may not be the only thing he has to worry about.
First fight’s blueprint
We expected their UFC 245 clash to match two men who like to take things to the ground. Instead, Usman and Covington both realised they weren’t going to get away with that – and they opted to push through towards a stand-up classic.
They spent five rounds beating the living daylights out of each other, and that’s no exaggeration. It was a kickboxing type of bout, and if you’d have said that would happen beforehand, we’d call you crazy.
These guys know they can hurt one another with strikes and that much is obvious. Sure, their respective game plans may be different, but another brawl isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Will Covington wrestle?
Colby Covington wrestling is about as predictable as Erling Haaland scoring for Dortmund.
No, he didn’t try it in the first fight, and no, it isn’t guaranteed to work this time, but it’d add an extra factor into the mix that Usman would need to counter.
There’s a burning hatred between these rivals, and that much is clear. With that in mind, and given Usman’s recent track record, Covington may want to catch him off guard.
This battle could quickly turn into a “cat and mouse” situation, and if that happens, the panto-style story combined with the New York City crowd will make for excellent viewing.
You can watch it all go down this weekend when the UFC 268 main card kicks off at 2am BST on Sunday morning.
Featured image credit: Getty