If you think that Colby Covington’s vs. Jorge Masvidal grudge game was boring, Chael Sonnen is with you.
You’re welcome to his website! podcast, Sonnen broke down this past Saturday’s UFC 272 main event, which saw Covington score a commanding unanimous decision win over Masvidal. Much was made of how the hated rivals once trained closely together at American Top Team in Florida, a factor that Sonnen believes led to there being a few tentative moments in the fight.
“Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal, can we agree, can we at least agree that neither guy looked their best,” Sonnen said. And I will tell you why. It’s an important piece of psychology one should really study. But historically, we all know our opponent. This can happen in any sport. When Brady goes to the Buccaneers, we also know his plays and how they’re going to be run. It ends up with a reactive mindset as opposed to proactive.
“I’m talking about defense as opposed to offense. It’s always ‘I can attack him’ when someone knows about their opponent. I know what his openings are so I can go after him.’ It’s always ‘I know what he’s gonna do so I know how to block.’ Always. It just does something to the athlete’s mindset. Whenever we see two guys who know each other, where the mask is off, there’s no allure, there’s no illusions, there’s no mystery, guys shut down as opposed to go forward.”
For the most part it was Covington who drove the action. He used volume striking to keep Masvidal at bay and wrestled to bring Masvidal down. As the bout progressed, it appeared that Covington was pulling away on the scorecards and he eventually went on to take the decision with scores of 49-46, 50-44, and 50-45.
Sonnen believes that their familiarity allowed them to emphasize the importance of avoiding injury rather than distributing it.
“I knew going into this fight just because I’ve seen it so many times, both of these guys were going to underperform,” Sonnen said. They did not bring their best offensive, but they both came in one degree. They did bring some ****** decent defense. Although they knew each other well, they also had a good sense of what to do.
” You didn’t notice any broken noses or swollen eyelids. They didn’t trade it back and forth. .”
Sonnen went on to say that Masvidal actually did well with his takedown defense early in the fight, to the point that Covington looked frustrated and had to slow down his offense to change the pace of the fight. Sonnen was able to see that Covington had found a way for him to keep his energy up while still being on the offensive.
There was one scary moment for Covington in Round 4 as Masvidal wobbled him with a hard punch, only for Covington to avoid any further damage. Sonnen had an explanation for Masvidal not capitalizing on that moment.
” Now that we get to round four, Masvidal is still defensive,” Sonnen stated. I know Masvidal took that huge shot. Masvidal’s big shot reminded me of Nate Diaz against Leon Edwards in the fifth round. Jorge had him but Jorge never followed up. Now you have a question as to why.
“You could default to because he didn’t know how bad he had him hurt and Colby was hurt badly and Colby was hurt for a long time. It was 20 seconds before Colby was back. They had to go in between rounds, get help from the corner, get that minute off before Colby had his full feet back. The other piece of that is I don’t think that Masvidal had the energy at that point. When you have someone laying on top of you, Colby is doing the same thing that Jorge is doing, they’re doing the same thing, they’re in the exact same position, but Jorge has Colby on top of him. They’re basically doing the same thing, but Jorge is carrying 180 more weight. You get it, it’s very basic.”
Despite his criticism of the main event’s entertainment value, Sonnen praised Covington and Masvidal for their toughness. He appreciated Masvidal’s determination to fight through defeats even though it was clear that victory on the scorecards would not be possible.
“I respected how much Masvidal stayed in there,” Sonnen said. “You’ve got a guy on your back, you’re down four rounds, there’s no way for you to win this fight, this is over, you’re not going to win the fight, but you stay in there anyway. Rear-naked choke is as efficient as it looks, but rarely works. This is the signal between two athletes: “I’m going to give you my back.” Don’t punch me, put the choke in, make it look good and I’ll tap out.’ That’s exactly where Colby had him and Masvidal refused.
“As tired as Masvidal was, as exhausted as he was, and we know he was because he hurt Colby and he didn’t follow up, that speaks and shows you without a question he doesn’t have the kind of energy that he wanted to have. He still wouldn’t quit. Jorge Masvidal was the first to wake up in that sport’s second largest draw and is now the BMF champion. Jorge Masvidal is the BMF champion and Jorge Masvidal has the second-biggest draw in the sport. Masvidal was a very good host .”