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Morning Report: Colby Covington on Kamaru Usman: ‘He’s knocking out lightweights, he’s knocking out guys that shouldn’t be in there with him’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Next month at UFC 268, Colby Covington will get his second crack at the undisputed welterweight championship when he challenges champion Kamaru Usman in their highly anticipated rematch. The two first fought at UFC 245, in a Fight of the Year contender that saw Usman win by fifth-round TKO. The bout was not without controversy though as Covington contended that many things conspired against him, including Usman faking a low blow and referee Marc Goddard stopping the bout prematurely. Now, Covington will finally get his chance to right those alleged wrongs, and to hear him tell it, half the battle was just getting back to a title shot.

“It’s been such a journey,” Covington told ESPN. “It’s been tough. It wasn’t supposed to happen. They did not want it to happen. His manager, they were refusing. They were trying to find every way in the book out of fighting this rematch. They didn’t want this fight and the only reason they have to take it is the UFC gave them no choice. They said, ‘Hey, you fight this fight or we strip you. It’s one or the other. You’ve got to come out and prove you’re the best in the world. There needs to be no controversy surrounding this fight.’ So it’s been tough.”

Since their first fight, Covington and Usman have been on very different paths. Covington has fought just once, securing a fifth-round TKO over former champion Tyron Woodley last year. Meanwhile, Usman has been extremely active, racking up three more title defenses, one over Gilbert Burns and two over Jorge Masvidal, and starting rumblings that he may be approaching Georges St-Pierre’s title of greatest welterweight of all-time. However, for Covington, those victories ring hollow given who he beat.

“I had to go out and finish a former world champion in Woodley,” Covington said. “He got too easy paychecks against lightweights that should have never been there. His last fight was against ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal. God, I was beating that guy decades ago. That’s not an achievement. You’re proud for beating that guy? That guy’s a lightweight. He shouldn’t even be up here at the top of the mountain....

“He’s knocking out lightweights, he’s knocking out guys that shouldn’t be in there with him. These are easy paychecks and there’s a reason he fought those guys, because he knew he was going to win. A former training partner of his, Dilbert, the guy should have never been in there. ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal? The only reason he’s in that position is because he’s got all the hype on him. No one cares to see that guy fight. He’s not a top-tier fighter. ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal is the most fragile guy on the UFC roster and he deserves no place fighting in a championship fight and we found that out.”

Though Covington’s comments may miss the mark in some respects, Usman did face criticism for choosing to rematch Jorge Masvidal in April despite having won a clear decision over him last year, particularly when other contenders like Covington were waiting in the wings. However, Usman was clear in stating that he was not being particularly interested in a Covington rematch since “Chaos” had only had the one fight since their first contest. In the end, it didn’t matter though and now Covington gets what he’s been after all along, a second shot at Usman.

“The fact is no one wanted to fight me,” Covington said. “Go to Hunter Campbell, go to Dana White, ask them the truth. No one would fight me. ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal, they wanted to make this big hype fight, best friends turned rivals who hate each other’s guts now. He was running his mouth in the media saying all this and that, ‘I’ll drop Colby on sight, that guy’s fragile, blah blah blah.’ There’s no one more fragile than ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal. That guy got - is he even awake yet, or is he still sleeping from the last time he fought Usman?

“I was trying to put on the biggest and best fights for the UFC. No one wanted to take the bait so now we are here and we get the best fight in the welterweight division and it’s gonna be a real treat for the fans.”

UFC 268 takes place on Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY.


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