Having shared over 80 combined minutes in the octagon with the UFC 272 headliners, Kamaru Usman knows a few things about Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
The reigning UFC Welterweight Champion has won two victories against Covington, Masvidal in his five previous title defenses. Usman is in Las Vegas to watch the matchup between two of his most heated rivals and took part in a Q&A with Megan Olivi and members of the media ahead of the UFC 272 ceremonial weigh-ins.
Among the questions that were asked by the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings had to do with Masvidal’s claims that Covington had been a “quitter” on a few occasions during their sparring sessions at American Top Team, and if Usman believed there was some truth to that declaration
“Absolutely,” Usman said of Covington. When I broke his jaw in the third round, [in our first fight at UFC 245], he returned to his side and said, “My jaw is broken.” Hey, he might have toughed it out and cleaned it up, and he’s no longer that guy, but I think everybody has a price. If Masvidal can do enough damage, I think Colby will make that deal with himself to be able to quit.”
Usman is quite familiar with being on the receiving end of a Covington fight build and how ugly things can get. Having said that, Usman respects “Chaos” as a fighter and admitted he was surprised at how much Covington’s striking improved in the main event of November’s UFC 268 event where “The Nigerian Nightmare” earned a unanimous decision win.
While there has been evolution to Covington’s game, Usman believes that Covington’s bread and butter could be the difference maker, especially if the bout enters the championship rounds.
” It don’t seem good for Masvidal [if this fight gets extended],” Usman stated. I’m being truthful. If it goes to the later rounds, that means Colby has found a way to keep the fight going as long as he can, so I don’t think that favors Masvidal.
” I don’t believe he will be able hold [Masvidal] back, at least not until later rounds. But that’s good news for Colby, who doesn’t want to drag guys down. Colby just wants him to be able drag him down, so they can work to get up and drag him back down. What’s really going to make the difference in this fight is Masvidal’s ability to not get tired. But Covington has more ways to win.”
The gambling community seems to be fully in favor of Covington, as he enters the bout as an over 3-to-1 favorite over Masvidal, a 50-fight pro. Even though Usman feels Covington has more tools and weapons, the 170-pound titleholder sees a path where “Gamebred” could find success.
” I think Jorge just needs to press him,” Usman said. He’s much more skilled than I expected because Jorge stands up straight in that position, bounces up, down and it seems easy to knock him out. But it wasn’t as simple as I imagined. He’s got to press Covington and you’ve got to make him remember all them times he slept on your couch, eating those $2 McDonald’s burgers, you’ve got to make him remember that.”