UFC 272 Report: Colby Covington defeats Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision
By: Eric Marcotte
UFC 272 took place on Saturday night, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a rare numbered UFC event that featured not one, but two, five-round fights, with neither of those bouts being for a UFC Championship. In the headlining bout, top welterweight contenders Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal met in what was branded as a heated fight between former friends turned rivals. Masvidal and Covington both trained at American Top Team for a number of years, but rising friction between the two resulted in Covington’s split from the gym. Since then, both fighters have challenged for the UFC Welterweight Championship twice, going a combined 0-4 against the current champion, Kamaru Usman. With neither man in immediate contention to challenge Usman next, this fight between the two former friends was finally put together, to a great deal of fanfare. The other five-round fight on this card featured the former UFC Lightweight Champion, Rafael dos Anjos, facing Renato Moicano, who took this fight on very short notice. Originally, dos Anjos was scheduled to face Rafael Fiziev, but a positive COVID-19 test removed Fiziev from this card. Despite fighting just three weeks prior, Moicano offered to step in to face dos Anjos, and the challenge was accepted by the former champion.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Michael Bisping, and Joe Rogan. Performance bonuses were awarded to Kevin Holland and Maryna Moroz. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington. The announced attendance for this event was 19,425, with a total gate of $6.76 million.
*Dustin Jacoby def. Michal Oleksiejczuk by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Ludovit Klein def. Devonte Smith by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Tim Elliott def. Tagir Ulanbekov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Umar Nurmagomedov def. Brian Kelleher by rear-naked choke at 3:15 of Round 1
*Maryna Moroz def. Mariya Agapova by arm triangle at 3:27 of Round 2
*Nicolae Negumereanu def. Kennedy Nzechukwu by split decision (29-27, 29-27, 27-29)
*Marina Rodriguez def. Yan Xiaonan by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Jalin Turner def. Jamie Mullarkey by TKO at 0:46 of Round 2
*Sergey Spivak def. Greg Hardy by TKO at 2:16 of Round 1
*Kevin Holland def. Alex Oliveira by TKO at 0:38 of Round 2
*Bryce Mitchell def. Edson Barboza by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
*Rafael dos Anjos def. Renato Moicano by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-44, 50-44)
*Colby Covington def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-44, 50-45)
DUSTIN JACOBY (16-5-1, 205.5) VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK (16-4, 1 NC, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
It took about a minute for the first eye-poke of the night, as Jacoby caught Oleksiejczuk with a particularly nasty one. Oleksiejczuk did not take long to recover and secured a quick takedown, which is a rare occurrence for Oleksiejczuk. Jacoby returned to his feet, where he began to search for a takedown of his own. Oleksiejczuk defended successfully, and he seemed to be getting the better of Oleksiejczuk on the feet throughout this opening round. 10-9 Oleksiejczuk.
Jacoby caught Oleksiejczuk with a series of hooks early in the second round, and he immediately went on the attack in pursuit of a finish. Oleksiejczuk was clearly hurt, stumbling to the ground at one point, but he defended himself well considering and escaping danger momentarily. Jacoby chose to bring the fight to the ground after he couldn’t finish Oleksiejczuk with his flurry, but Oleksiejczuk was able to escape to his feet and seemed to have recovered. Oleksiejczuk connected with a looping left hand that knocked Jacoby’s head back in the final minute of the round. 19-19.
Jacoby was given a harsh warning from referee Mark Smith for his outstretched fingers. I wish I kept count of the number of times Smith yelled out “fingers” throughout this fight, but alas, I did not. The majority of this round was practically a boxing match, with Jacoby being slightly busier. Jacoby attempted to seal the round with a takedown, but the attempt was defended, and the fighters spent the final minutes of the round grappling against the cage. 29-28 Jacoby.
WINNER: Dustin Jacoby by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Throughout the bout, the commentary team speculated that Jacoby may be fighting with a significant injury, as he was not throwing any kicks throughout the bout, despite that being a huge part of his game. Jacoby confirmed this in his post-fight interview, so this was a fairly impressive performance from Jacoby given the circumstances. Oleksiejczuk started the fight off strong but fell behind after getting rocked at the start of round two. Jacoby is now 5-0-1 in the UFC, and perhaps a rematch against Ion Cutelaba, the fighter he drew with, would be a sensible next matchup for Jacoby.
DEVONTE SMITH (11-3, 156) VS LUDOVIT KLEIN (17-4, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Klein threw a hard body kick, as well as a one-two that knocked Smith’s head back early in the fight. A straight left hand from Klein rocked Smith, but Smith was able to wrap Klein up in the clinch, buying himself time to recover. Klein landed a number of hard knees to the body in the clinch, and the fighters spent the next several minutes in this position until they were separated. Klein immediately caught Smith with a head kick and followed it up with another left hand to end the round. 10-9 Klein.
Smith threw a series of kicks to the head to start the second round. Klein brought Smith back into the clinch against the cage, but the fight did not remain there this time, as Smith was able to break away. Klein defended a takedown attempt from Smith, before pushing his opponent back to the cage. Once again, they were broken apart, but Smith was unable to complete his immediate takedown attempt, resulting in the fight going right back to the cage. 19-19.
A front kick from Klein hurt Smith, and he went on the attack with the intent of finishing the fight. Smith wrapped him up when Klein got too close, and the fight went back to familiar territory, as they wrestled against the cage. There were moments in which they broke apart, and Smith found success with right hooks and knees up the middle, but time was not on his side, and fittingly, the majority of the fight’s final minutes were spent with the fighters wrestling against the cage. 29-28 Klein.
WINNER: Ludovit Klein by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Both fighters found success on the feet throughout the fight, but the difference-maker in this one was ultimately the control time. Smith was continuously unable to escape these lengthy clinch exchanges where he found himself pressed against the cage, often leaving him behind on the scorecards after eating big shots at the beginning of the rounds (specifically rounds one and three). The scorecards were all over the place, but honestly, I think each of them was defendable; it was a close fight. Klein is now 2-2 in the UFC.
TIM ELLIOTT (17-12-1, 126) VS TAGIR ULANBEKOV (14-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Ulanbekov worked his jab early, but Elliott recorded a quick takedown and caught Ulanbekov with a knee to the head as he picked himself up. Ulanbekov slowed Elliott down on the feet, and despite repeated takedowns from Elliott, Ulanbekov was continuously able to get back to his feet, where he seemed to be landing the harder strikes. A big left hand from Elliott changed things, however, as he recorded a late knockdown, stealing this round back. 10-9 Elliott.
Ulanbekov began the second round with a strong counter hook as Elliott marched forward. Ulanbekov took Elliott down, where he attempted to transition to Elliott’s back, but lost the position in the process. Ulanbekov connected with a strong right hand before Elliott responded with an elbow. Elliott grabbed the glove of Ulanbekov, and hit him in the process, which naturally drew a complaint from Ulanbekov to the referee. Both fighters defended takedowns from the other throughout the final minutes of the round. 20-18 Elliott.
Elliott opened up a cut on the left side of Ulanbekov’s head, as a result of an inadvertent headbutt. Ulanbekov chased after takedowns, but even when he was successful in taking Elliott down, Elliott would pop right back to his feet, resulting in little progress being made. Late in the round, however, Ulanbekov began to crawl up the back of Tim Elliott, where he locked in a body triangle and started hunting for a rear-naked choke. The submission didn’t come, but the fight went the distance, and this was a very strong round for Ulanbekov. 29-28 Elliott.
WINNER: Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
With the first round clearly going to Elliott, and the final round clearly going to Ulanbekov, this fight ultimately came down to a very competitive second round. Ulanbekov’s striking was on point early in the round, but as it progressed, it felt as though Tim Elliott was finding more success, and that may have been the difference-maker, as each judge saw the round the same way. Elliott has now won three of his last four bouts.
BRIAN KELLEHER (24-12, 145) VS UMAR NURMAGOMEDOV (13-0, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Nurmagomedov slapped Kelleher with a head kick early. Nurmagomedov secured underhooks against the cage, where he attempted to drag Kelleher to the ground. Kelleher defended the attempts, but could not create much separation, and eventually gave up his back as he attempted to crawl up against the cage. Nurmagomedov immediately locked in a rear-naked choke, and Kelleher was forced to submit.
WINNER: Umar Nurmagomedov by rear-naked choke at 3:15 of Round 1
Nurmagomedov was an astronomical favorite here, despite this being only his second fight in the UFC. On paper, someone with the experience of Kelleher would be a tough step up in competition for a fighter like Nurmagomedov, but that was not the case here. Nurmagomedov fought a perfect fight and quickly submitted the UFC veteran. Undefeated professionally, the expectations for Nurmagomedov are high, and I would not be shocked if he gets fast-tracked to a ranked opponent. He is now 2-0 in the UFC.
MARYNA MOROZ (10-3, 125.5) VS MARIYA AGAPOVA (10-2, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Moroz worked for a takedown, and despite some strong defense from Agapova, Moroz was eventually successful in taking her opponent down, where she began to work from the back of Agapova. Moroz attempted a rear-naked choke, but her positioning was just a bit off, and Agapova transitioned into top position. Moroz went for an armbar off of her back, however, the submission was avoided, and the fight returned to the feet.
Moroz brought Agapova back to the ground about a minute into the second round. She threw down some vicious elbows from top mount, before Agapova gave up her back, which prompted Moroz to start swinging hooks from on top instead. Moroz transitioned into an arm triangle, and Agapova was forced to submit.
WINNER: Maryna Moroz by arm triangle at 3:27 of Round 2
Agapova was the slight betting favorite, but Moroz gave her no room to work on the feet here, smothering Agapova against the cage before dragging her to the ground. Moroz actively pursued a finish after getting the fight to the ground in both rounds, and she eventually secured the arm-triangle choke in the second round, picking up her first stoppage win since 2015. Rogan gave Moroz the microphone in her post-fight interview, and the Ukrainian gave a powerful speech in support of her country and family, who are currently in Ukraine. The crowd was very supportive, and it was a touching moment.
NICOLAE NEGUMEREANU (11-1, 205.5) VS KENNEDY NZECHUKWU (9-2, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
There was very little offensive output from either man throughout this opening round. Negumereanu found a home for his straight right hand early, throwing it through the guard of Nzechukwu. Nzechukwu was given a warning for his outstretched fingers, but no points were deducted. I scored the round for Negumereanu based on activity. 10-9 Negumereanu.
Negumereanu pursued a takedown in the second round, to no success. After a lengthy period of time spent wrestling against the cage, they were separated, as referee Mark Smith urged the fighters to engage. They began to trade jabs and straight right hands, with Nzechukwu seemingly landing the stronger blows. Nzechukwu did a great deal of damage to the nose of Negumereanu, and that was likely enough to award him the round. 19-19.
Round three began with a brutal eye poke to Negumereanu, and the doctor was immediately brought in to check on him. It was determined that he could continue fighting, and a point was deducted from Nzechukwu. When the action resumed, Nzechukwu threw a pair of flying knees, which prompted Negumereanu to shoot for a takedown. Nzechukwu defended, and caught Negumereanu with a number of counter hooks as Negumereanu pressured forward. Negumereanu responded with a trio of right hands that were probably his best shots of the fight to that point. The fight went the distance, and with the point deduction taken into account, I scored the fight 28-28.
WINNER: Nicolae Negumereanu by split decision (29-27, 29-27, 27-29)
Between the eye pokes, the time it took to calculate the scores, the amount of inactivity within the fight, and of course the bout ultimately going the distance, this felt like a very, very, very long fight. I scored the fight as a draw, which was a scorecard not shared by any of the judges. 29-27 scorecards for both fighters is a rare thing to see, but I wasn’t particularly offended by either score. Neither 30-27 for Nzechukwu, nor 29-28 for Negumereanu is an unreasonable way to see the fight (with the point deduction leading to the 29-27 scorecards). Negumereanu improved to 3-1 in the UFC with this win.
MARINA RODRIGUEZ (15-1-2, 116) VS XIAONAN YAN (13-2, 1 NC, 116) – STRAWWEIGHT
Yan began the fight aggressively, putting pressure on Rodriguez. She looked confident on the feet and did not seem concerned by Rodriguez’s counter striking ability. As the round progressed, Rodriguez seemed to get more comfortable but seemed to be slightly slower than her opponent. A low blow from Rodriguez brought a pause to the action, and a doctor was brought in to check on Yan. It was determined that she could continue, and the fight resumed. Rodriguez fought aggressively throughout the final minute of the round, but Yan secured a big takedown right before time expired. 10-9 Yan.
The fight continued to play out largely on the feet in the second round. Rodriguez was the advancing fighter, but Yan seemed to be dictating the striking engagements, and she eventually opted to take Rodriguez to the ground, although she was unable to keep her there for long. Rodriguez was not finding her target quite often enough with her strikes but remained very competitive in the bout despite Yan seemingly pulling ahead on the strike count. This was a tough round to score, but I narrowly gave the edge to Rodriguez, as I thought when she did land, she did more damage. 19-19.
Yan was fighting far more tentatively in round three than she was in the first round. This allowed Rodriguez to pick up the aggression, and she seemed to be the slightly busier fighter here. Rodriguez connected with some looping left hooks, and Yan returned fire with her left hand, cutting Rodriguez open. In the final minute of the bout, Yan landed a big left hook but ate a knee and some sharp elbows moments later. A very close final round. 29-28 Rodriguez on my scorecard.
WINNER: Marina Rodriguez by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Considering that this was a fight between two of the top-ranked fighters at strawweight, I would have preferred this as a five-round fight night main event, but I’m not going to complain about what we got here either. Both of these strikers looked sharp throughout the bout, and the fight really could have been scored either way (which feels like something I’ve said many times tonight). Rodriguez has now won her last four fights and has really established herself as one of the top fighters in the division. She called for a title shot in her next bout, and I would think that is a definite possibility, especially if Rose Namajunas defeats Carla Esparza (which is assumed to be the next title bout in the division),
JALIN TURNER (11-5, 156) VS JAMIE MULLARKEY (14-4, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Turner caught Mullarkey with a right hand early that appeared to rock him, but Mullarkey fired back, wobbling Turner in the process. Turner defended a takedown attempt from Mullarkey, and he just began to pick Mullarkey apart on the feet, seemingly doing considerable damage with each landed blow. Mullarkey was never out of the fight, however, constantly throwing back bombs at Turner, while also keeping the threat of a takedown alive in the back of Turner’s mind. Towards the end of the round, Mullarkey was successful in taking Turner down but did not do much with the position before time in the round expired.
Turner immediately went back on the attack in round two, backing Mullarkey up with a knee to the midsection, before overwhelming him with right hands against the cage. Mullarkey eventually went down from one of Turner’s short right hands, and the fight was stopped as Turner threw down brutal ground and pound shots.
WINNER: Jalin Turner by TKO at 0:46 of Round 2
This was an entertaining fight while it lasted. Turner was clearly the more skillful striker, but Mullarkey was throwing with the intention of securing a quick knockout himself, and that led to some very entertaining exchanges in round one. The finishing sequence was very impressive; the knee to the body from Turner caused Mullarkey to drop his hands in the second round, and that directly led to the flurry of right hands that ended the fight. Turner has now won his last four fights, and he has secured stoppages in each of those wins. He is rapidly approaching ranked competition at 155lbs, and Turner has established himself as a very entertaining fighter to watch.
SERGEY SPIVAK (13-3, 243.5) VS GREG HARDY (7-4, 1 NC, 266) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Hardy began the fight with a pair of heavy low kicks. Spivak utilized a hip toss to bring Hardy to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. Hardy was able to use the cage to get back to his feet but was repeatedly dragged back down. Spivak postured up and started throwing down ground and pound strikes, and as Hardy was unable to escape the position, the fight was quickly stopped.
WINNER: Sergey Spivak by TKO at 2:16 of Round 1
The second that Spivak decided to take this fight to the ground, it became very uncompetitive. Hardy was clearly several levels behind Spivak in the grappling department, and he just had no answers for Spivak on the ground, resulting in the quick finish. Hardy has now been stopped in three consecutive fights, and with this being the last fight on his contract, I would not be surprised if this is the last time that we see him in the UFC. Spivak improved to 5-3 in the promotion with this win.
At this point in the broadcast, the UFC announced that former UFC Lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, would be inducted into the 2022 UFC Hall of Fame, headlining the event. Nurmagomedov retired in 2020, with a professional record of 29-0. He defended his UFC Lightweight Championship three times and holds wins over notable fighters such as Rafael Dos Anjos, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov was one of the most popular fighters in the sport throughout the final years of his career, and his dominance inside the octagon was remarkable, going 13-0 in the UFC (barely losing a round in the process). Nurmagomedov certainly had a Hall of Fame-worthy run in the company and this was a well-deserved induction.
KEVIN HOLLAND (21-7, 1 NC, 170) VS ALEX OLIVEIRA (22-11-1, 2 NC, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
Both fighters were swinging wildly in the opening minute, looking to crack their opponent with a fight-ending shot early. Oliveira attacked the lead leg of Holland with low kicks, which were quickly beginning to affect the movement of Holland. Both fighters rocked each other momentarily during a wild exchange on the feet, and the action slowed down slightly after this, with both men recognizing the power possessed by the other. Holland began to attack the lead leg of Oliveira late in the round, and much like Oliveira’s leg kicks to Holland, they added up quickly. In the final seconds of the round, Oliveira took Holland down, and in the scramble, Oliveira actually took Holland’s back and nearly sunk in a choke.
Just moments into the next round, Holland dropped Oliveira with a right hand, and Holland followed Oliveira to the ground, where he threw down countless ground and pound blows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Kevin Holland by TKO at 0:38 of Round 2
Firstly, let me just say that Kevin Holland looked massive at 170lbs. He wasn’t someone that I had concerns about, cutting down to welterweight, but to actually see him in the division, really put into perspective just how much of a size advantage he’ll have over the majority of his opponents. Now onto the fight itself; this was another crazy one. Holland and Oliveira were practically lunging into their strikes in round one, resulting in some very dangerous exchanges for both fighters. Oliveira nearly had Holland beat at the end of the first round, but Holland came out confident in round two, catching Oliveira with that right hand, and he ended the fight soon thereafter. This marked Holland’s welterweight debut, and he alluded to calling out Donald Cerrone in his post-fight interview.
EDSON BARBOZA (22-10, 145.5) VS BRYCE MITCHELL (14-0, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Barboza attacked the lead leg of Mitchell throughout the opening minute. They exchanged kicks, and a straight left hand from Mitchell dropped Barboza against the cage. Barboza did not seem seriously rocked, but this allowed Mitchell to secure the takedown, and he began to work from Barboza’s guard. Mitchell landed a number of short elbows and controlled Barboza in this position until the final seconds of the round. Barboza scrambled to his feet late, landing a big right hand before time expired. 10-9 Mitchell.
An ill-advised calf kick from Barboza allowed Mitchell to take the striker back down, with practically the entire round to work. Much like the first round, Mitchell threw down a series of sharp elbows, which cut Barboza open near his left eye. Barboza popped back to his feet with two minutes remaining in the round, but Mitchell dragged him right back down, and this was a very dominant round for Bryce Mitchell. 20-17 Mitchell.
Barboza began the third round aggressively, knowing that he needed the finish. He loaded up a bit too much, however, and Mitchell was able to change levels, taking Barboza right back down. Barboza threw up a triangle choke at one point, but Mitchell lifted Barboza into the air, which forced Barboza to slip and give up on the attempt. Mitchell climbed into full mount with a minute remaining in the round, and he peppered Barboza with strikes on the ground until time expired. 30-26 Mitchell.
WINNER: Bryce Mitchell by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
Barboza had no answers for Mitchell on the ground, and that led to a very one-sided fight in favor of the wrestler. He landed an absurd amount of ground and pound strikes throughout the fight and really did a great job of limiting Barboza’s opportunities to get back to his feet. Joe Rogan speculated that Barboza’s weight cut drained him of the energy needed to return to his feet, but we’ve seen Barboza fight multiple times since moving down to featherweight, and his cardio has never really been in question. Mitchell just fought a great fight, and elite wrestlers will always pose difficulties for Edson Barboza. After the fight, Mitchell announced that he plans to donate $45,000 to a hospital in Arkansas for children with medical conditions.
RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (30-13, 160) VS RENATO MOICANO (16-4-1, 160) – CATCHWEIGHT
Moicano almost took the back of dos Anjos seconds into the fight, but dos Anjos was able to shake him off for the time being and secured a takedown of his own. Moicano scrambled back to his feet but was taken right back down. RDA landed some strong ground and pound strikes and was having very little difficulties in maintaining top position. This was a strong opening round for the former champion. 10-9 RDA.
RDA cracked Moicano with a left hook to begin round two, but Moicano was able to defend the follow-up takedown attempt. A straight left hand from dos Anjos backed Moicano up before he took his opponents back in an attempt to drag him to the ground. Moicano defended once again, but RDA’s next takedown attempt was successful, and he began to work from top position once more, a position that he maintained for the remainder of the round. 20-18 RDA.
Moicano found a bit more success on the feet early in the third round, but dos Anjos was doing a good job of moving out of the way of the majority of Moicano’s strikes and was throwing hard shots in return. A head kick from dos Anjos rocked Moicano, and RDA followed his opponent to the ground, where he threw down vicious ground and pound strikes. Moicano somehow managed to survive this flurry, but he was down big on the scorecards heading into round four. 30-26 RDA.
The doctor was brought in between rounds to check on the left eye of Moicano that was nearly swollen shut, but it was determined that Moicano could continue, and the fight resumed. Moicano cracked dos Anjos with a couple of right hands but was quickly taken back down. RDA postured up and delivered some short elbows, really just continuing to put a beatdown on Moicano on this uncompetitive fight. Moicano was a bloody mess, but yet again, he made it out of the round. 40-35 RDA.
Referee Mark Goddard was on the verge of stopping the fight and brought the doctor back into the cage to begin round five. Once again, the referee stated that Moicano was fit to continue, and Goddard warned Moicano that if he didn’t turn the fight around thirty seconds into this fifth round, he was stopping the fight. While Moicano did not in any way turn the fight around, he didn’t take any significant damage early in the round, and things were not stopped after thirty seconds. Moicano scrambled to his feet after a takedown from dos Anjos, and he did his best to land a fight ending blow. To Moicano’s credit, he landed some good strikes, especially in the final minute, but the finish never came, and the fight went the distance. 50-44 RDA.
WINNER: Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-44, 50-44)
Moicano found short spurts of success, specifically in the final minute of the fight, but this was largely a one-sided, uncompetitive fight. RDA was better everywhere, and Moicano took an absurd amount of damage throughout these twenty-five minutes. Still, this was a huge state for Moicano, and I imagine he won over a lot of fans with the heart he displayed here. As for dos Anjos, this was his first fight since November of 2020, and despite all the strange circumstances that led to this fight coming together, I thought he looked fantastic. RDA has dominated both of his opponents since moving back down to lightweight, and it is clear that this is the weight class that dos Anjos excels in. Despite this, he called out Jorge Masvidal in his post-fight interview, challenging him for the BMF title. I don’t think a move back to 170lbs is wise for RDA, although I would never challenge the former champion’s status as one of the toughest men in the sport.
COLBY COVINGTON (16-3, 170.5) VS JORGE MASVIDAL (35-15, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Unsurprisingly, the fighters did not touch gloves to start this fight. Covington caught Masvidal with an eye poke early and shot for a takedown as Masvidal complained to the referee about the poke. Covington dragged Masvidal to the ground repeatedly, and he began to look for a rear-naked choke. Masvidal defended the submission attempts but was unable to escape from the position until the final seconds of the round. 10-9 Covington.
Covington was issued a hard warning between rounds for the eye poke that led to the first takedown of the previous round. The fighters exchanges kicks from at range in the second round, before Covington shot for his first takedown attempt of the round. Masvidal defended the attempt with elbows before they were separated from the cage due to a low blow from Covington. Covington was swinging wildly as the fight resumed, but the shots were landing. Masvidal cut Covington open near his left eye with an elbow, however, he chose to engage Covington on the ground after a slip, which allowed Covington to take back control of the fight. Masvidal made it back to his feet, but Covington was aggressive with his striking and was giving Masvidal problems with his constant pressure. 20-18 Covington.
Masvidal was taken back down less than a minute into round three. Covington connected with a number of elbows, and Masvidal was in a very tough position, with a lot of time left for Covington to work. Covington transitioned to Masvidal’s back late in the round, where he began to look for a choke that never came. Masvidal got back to his feet before the end of the round, where he cracked Covington with a pair of left hands. 30-26 Covington.
Covington continued to apply pressure in the fourth round, and Masvidal just could not get away from the fence. Covington landed a hard combination of punches as Masvidal covered up against the cage, and this was becoming a one-sided fight, as Masvidal appeared to be tiring. Despite clear exhaustion, Masvidal threw a looping right hand that rocked Covington, but he just didn’t have enough energy left to capitalize. This was a tough round to score, however, I gave the slightest of edges to Covington once again. 40-35 Covington.
Covington wasted little time in getting the fight back to the ground. Covington took the back of Masvidal, where he continued to hunt for a choke. He came close a few times, but the finish didn’t come, and the fight went the distance. 50-44 Covington.
WINNER: Colby Covington by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-44, 50-45)
As many people expected, Covington’s pace, cardio, and wrestling were just a bit too much for Masvidal to keep up with here. Masvidal is not an unskilled grappler by any means, but Covington was a step ahead, and just smothered Masvidal for a considerable portion of this fight. Masvidal almost caught him in the fourth round, but by that point in the bout, he was too tired to capitalize on the moment, and it slipped away. There were no hugs nor any pleasant words exchanged between the fighters after the bout, and Masvidal was clearly very disappointed by the outcome. In his post-fight interview, Covington called out Dustin Poirier, which is really as sensible of a next bout as any other for the top-ranked welterweight contender. Both Covington and Masvidal have two losses each to Kamaru Usman, which leaves them in a somewhat strange spot in the division, but they remain stars, as well as highly ranked fighters (especially in the case of Covington), so they will continue to compete in high profile bouts coming out of this. Despite Masvidal currently being on a three-fight streak of losses, there is no shortage of entertaining matchups to place the popular fighter in, and perhaps he could even take Rafael dos Anjos up on his challenge of a BMF title bout.