Since his first fight with Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington has been adamant he can defeat the reigning UFC welterweight champion, and Usman’s latest impressive performance did nothing to change his mind.
Usman dispatched another one of his rivals in emphatic fashion on Saturday, defeating Jorge Masvidal by second-round knockout in the main event of UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Fla. Covington was in attendance for the first sold-out UFC event of the pandemic era, which means he had another chance to get a close look at his nemesis. Covington and Usman fought at UFC 245 in a back-and-forth battle that Usman won by fifth-round TKO.
In his fourth title defense, Usman picked up arguably the most memorable finish of his career so far. But Covington is focusing more on the faults that he saw in Usman’s performance.
“I wasn’t impressed with that fight,” Covington said on What the Heck. “If anything, I saw a lot of weaknesses in his game. Of course, the media’s not gonna talk about the weaknesses. They want to just talk about the strength and this crazy knockout, and this and that, and this new evolved game of his, but I saw him get tired in that first round.
“He was swinging heavy, and he got in the wrestling exchange and he was tired when he got back to his feet. If he fights me like that, I promise you it will be, ‘And new.’”
Covington has come as close as anyone to handing Usman his first UFC loss. When they clashed in December 2019, the two brawled on the feet and both had their moments before Usman landed a flurry of punches that brought a stop to the fight with less than a minute remaining in the fifth and final round.
Nine months later, Covington rebounded with a dominant win over former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. That victory kept Covington at the top of the contenders’ rankings, and UFC President Dana White said that he is next in line to face Usman after UFC 261.
“It was good,” Covington said of the announcement. “It’s one step. We’ve still got to get ‘Marty’ and ‘Ali Abdel A-Sleaze’ on the other hook. Those guys, they’re refusing to fight me. There’s a reason he ran it back right away with that fragile guy ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal. They knew it was an easy lick, an easy payday. The guy’s got almost 20 losses on his record. He’s literally the definition of journeyman. Jorge, we found out he’s fragile, he has no chin. Of course he wanted to expose all of that hype in front of the world, and good job, you guys did that.
“But now who are you gonna fight? There’s no one else. There’s no other lightweights for Marty and Ali to pick. There’s no other former teammates that are another blown-up lightweight that you guys can beat on. It’s time for round two with Colby Covington and ‘Marty Juiceman’ and this is gonna be really the test of two of the best fighters of all time in this weight class.”
Covington is putting his faith in White and UFC EVP Hunter Campbell, who he claims have promised him the title shot. Several contenders are set to compete over the next few months, including Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz, Stephen Thompson, and Gilbert Burns, but Covington doesn’t expect any of them to leapfrog him in the contenders’ line.
Instead, he expects Usman to want to be busy with eight months left in the year, and if he gets the opportunity, he vows to put up a better fight than Masvidal.
“You tried to tell me you need activity, I came back and won a fight,” Covington said. “Did Jorge, you know that fragile guy, win a fight when you beat him 50-43? You already beat him convincing, and it was a dominant win, and then you took his rematch right away because you knew it was an easy lick. I came back and won a fight and beat a guy that you beat for the world championship, a former UFC champion. I’ve had three or four of those on my resume in my last couple of fights as wins, so this is the fight that needs to happen. It’s the fight the fans want.
“Give the people what they want, Marty. Give Dana White and the UFC what they want. Come show your greatness. Come prove that you’re the welterweight GOAT. Come prove that you’re the pound-for-pound No. 1, because I know I’m gonna stop you.”
Should another opportunity come along or the UFC all upon him to serve as a short-notice replacement for a major fight, Covington said he’ll do what the promotion tells him to do. But first and foremost in his mind is avenging his only loss in five years.
“I want it, there’s nothing more that I want,” he said. “I want to rewrite my wrongs, I want to prove to the world that I’m a better fighter than him, and I want to prove to the world that I’m the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now. If it doesn’t happen, it will only be because of him, that he doesn’t want to fight. He might, ‘walk away from the sport,’ or ‘I need more time with my daughter,’ this and that. I hope it happens, but we’ll have to see.”