Making the Grade: UFC 272 edition, Covington vs. Masvidal


Not since Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor shared an octagon has a rivalry been as nasty as the one witnessed at UFC 272 when former teammates Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal went to war in the main event.

While the bad blood was all too real, the fight didn’t play out in back-and-forth fashion, as Covington largely dominated the action over five rounds before winning a lopsided unanimous decision. Covington was the heavy favourite going into this fight. However, he had to defeat an opponent who was well-versed in his tactics. Masvidal could not do much beyond a few flash knockdowns, which didn’t cause any significant damage.

In the co-main event, Rafael dos Anjos spent the better part of 25 minutes beating up Renato Moicano, who stepped into the fight on less that one week’s notice after Rafael Fiziev contracted COVID-19. Although Moicano seemed ready to take on Dos Anjos, he was overwhelmed by Doss Anjos, especially when Moicano was on the ground where he continued his assaults of Moicano.

There’s so much to learn from Saturday’s pay-per view, let’s take a look at what happened and what didn’t. This is the Making of the Grade UFC 272: Covington. Masvidal.


Rivalry Settled

Colby Covington is fond of making enemies, but it’s difficult to believe that he has had more intense rivalries than his one with Jorge Masvidal (ex-American Top Team)

Despite all of the personal fights these two had in the months prior to Saturday’s showdown, Covington came out on top. Masvidal struggled to maintain takedowns or ground control for five rounds. Covington put in a great performance, outworking Masvidal at almost every point during the fight.

A knockout might have felt more satisfying, but Covington’s demoralizing of Masvidal for 25 minutes was even harder to overcome. At least if he was caught with a punch, Masvidal could chalk it up to bad luck and eventually call for a rematch.

Now, Masvidal, who lost a close fight to Covington, will find it difficult to get back at him again. However, Covington, the outspoken ex-interim welterweight champion, can probably put aside this rivalry once and for all.

No matter what was said between these two, Covington has proven time and again that whether you like him or not is inconsequential to his performance. Covington is the best welterweight outside of Kamaru Usman.

Covington is almost impossible to match in terms of work ethic and is able to punish his adversaries minute by minute. This is more than getting caught with a Haymaker and staring at the light. Instead, Masvidal spent more than 16 minutes buried underneath Covington, who was bullying him around the cage and pummeling him on the ground.

Taking away all the trash talk and the way he loves to get under an opponent’s skin, Covington is a force of nature when he’s inside that octagon, and it’s going to take an awful lot for anybody at 170 pounds to beat him outside of the reigning welterweight champion.

Rock of Ages

If there is one thing mixed martial artists don’t celebrate enough, it’s the longevity.

Championships are great and long title reigns are even better, but there’s something to be said about a fighter who can constantly remain a top-10 talent for several years — or in the case of Rafael dos Anjos, who has been doing it for over a decade.

It’s one of the most remarkable runs in UFC history when you really start to consider the murderer’s row of talent that dos Anjos has faced throughout his career while competing at both lightweight and welterweight, arguably the two toughest divisions in the promotion. Dos Anjos has faced 10 former champions or title contenders in the UFC, and this November he’ll be celebrating his 14-year anniversary with the organization.

Of course, dos Anjos claimed the 155-pound title back in 2015 before eventually moving to 170 pounds, where he quickly earned a shot at an interim championship. At 37, he’s now back at lightweight again, where he’s rattled off two wins in a row including his unanimous decision win over Renato Moicano on Saturday night.

Originally, dos Anjos was scheduled to face Rafael Fiziev, who is a rising star at 155 pounds, but after he fell out the Brazilian essentially told the UFC to give him anybody they could get to accept the fight. He tried even to get a fight with Russian bear Islam Makhachev who had been killing his competitors lately.

Even that didn’t make dos Anjos blink, and that just speaks to the character and fortitude he’s shown so often throughout his career.

When lists about the all-time greatest fighters get put together, dos Anjos rarely hears his name mentioned — and maybe he doesn’t have the best resume in history, but a quick look at the opposition he’s faced since joining the UFC in 2008 should make anybody’s jaw drop.

Ukraine Strong

The tragedy in Ukraine following the Russian invasion is the most talked about story on the planet, but Maryna Moroz of UFC fleweight was much more affected by the events.

Moroz, a native Ukrainian, was prepping for her UFC fight while simultaneously dealing with horrific events in her homeland, where she still has family and friends. Moroz managed to overcome the terrible turmoil and put on a great performance, taking down former teammate Mariya AGapova.

Moroz was dominant with her grappling and submission game, completely negating whatever advantage Agapova might have felt she had on the feet. Moroz secured a head and arm choke in round 2. After Moroz secured a head-and-arm choke in the second round, the emotions of the moment took their toll.

Moroz spoke to the crowd with tears in her eyes.

It’s unreal that Moroz still managed to make it to her fight considering everything she’s dealing with right now, but the fact that she went out and soundly defeated her opponent makes it that much more awe inspiring. Moroz was rewarded with a $50,000 performance bonus as well as being showered with cheers from the crowd in Las Vegas, which surely felt great after the win.

Fighters have to deal with external forces every day that could ultimately impact a performance. Sometimes it is an injury or personal turmoil.

Moroz had every excuse in the world to just scrap her fight and focus on what’s happening in the Ukraine, but instead she walked to the octagon, scored a victory, and left feeling the love and adoration of the entire world.


He turned it down

In the lead-up to UFC 272, dos Anjos lost his opponent after Fiziev tested positive for COVID-19 and there was a mad scramble to find a late replacement. The most notable name on that list was lightweight wrecking ball Makhachev, who was just days removed from a TKO win over Bobby Green in his own UFC main event.

Makhachev and Dos Anjos had been in a match up before, but it never happened. Makhachev was then put in contention to be an opponent for dos Anjos. This led to an exchange on social media, as both fighters debated the weight classification for the fight.

According to UFC President Dana White, Makhachev believed that a deal had been made to book the matchup. But then, he claimed Makhachev rejected the fight, and Moicano was given the chance. White stated that Makhachev had given less than a week notice to cancel his fight dos Anjos and that he now has to face Beneil Daiush instead of potentially securing a title shot in the future.

Now to be clear, Makhachev deserves at least a little bit of blame for piping up about taking the fight with dos Anjos only to have it fall apart less than a day later. The UFC could punish Makhachev by forcing him into another fight, rather than giving him a title shot.

Makhachev could still face Dariush if contracts have not been signed. White stated that Makhachev turned down the fight and that they would remake it. It’s as though he is facing legal action for refusing to fight dos Anjos days after his last fight.

Short-notice fights are to be considered a luxury and not a necessity.

What does that mean exactly? This means to celebrate fighters when they take a quick notice chance, but not condemn them for declining it, nor punish them.

In this instance, Makhachev may be subject to some scrutiny for trying and failing to take the fight — assuming that it was — but to deny Makhachev of the title shot (if so), is beyond reproach and should not have been allowed to do so.


It is Time to Get New Material

In a sport in which superstardom can often outweigh (no pun intended), Covington had been playing according to the rules when he decided to begin bashing his teammates. He became the face of the MAGA Movement in MMA.

Unfortunately, Covington hasn’t changed his schtick and his incessant attacks on his enemies’ wives and children has become trash talk.

In the lead-up to his fight this past weekend, Covington constantly brought up Jorge Masvidal’s ex-wife while trying to get under his skin. That’s nothing new, because Covington did much of the same to Tyron Woodley for years before they finally met in the octagon, and now he’s targeting Dustin Poirier and his family.

To make matters even worse, Covington has not only decided to take shots at Poirier’s wife — he’s also invoked his daughter, which really feels like the lowest of the low when it comes to verbal warfare.

When it gets to the point where even Dana White — a constant champion for his athletes saying pretty much anything in order to build hype for a fight — is against that type of trash talk, perhaps Covington should go back to the drawing board for some new material.

Originally taking a page out of professional wrestling, Covington went viral with his outlandish statements because people were always legitimately curious about what he might say next. At his best, Covington managed some funny — albeit at times cringey — trash talk when taking aim at an opponent or even future opposition.

These days, while Covington absolutely remains the second best welterweight in the sport behind UFC champion Kamaru Usman, his commentary before and after his fights has gotten so out of hand that it’s more likely you’ll run for the mute button, because no one wants to hear what he has to say anymore.

Overall grade for UFC 272: