Multiple people with knowledge of the matchup confirmed to MMA Fighting that the fighters have agreed to the bout with contracts expected to be finalized. The promotion has targeted Nov. 6 as the date for the pay-per-view event, which is expected to be UFC 268, per sources. The matchup and PPV plans were first reported by ESPN.com citing UFC President Dana White.
UFC President Dana White named Covington the No. 1 contender to the welterweight title earlier this year. The former interim champ lost to Usman via fifth-round TKO at UFC 245 after a heated buildup. Covington claimed he was the victim of bad refereeing and demanded a rematch.
Usman, the No. 1 ranked welterweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, is three months removed from a victory in another rematch, a UFC 261 headliner in April that ended in his most emphatic performance to date with a knockout of Jorge Masvidal. It was his fourth defense of the welterweight title.
Covington most recently appeared in the octagon this past September at UFC Vegas 11, where he stopped ex-champ Tyron Woodley in another grudge match. The performance put him back in the win column after his loss to Usman snapped a seven-fight UFC winning streak.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Covington accused Usman of ducking the rematch.
“As soon as his balls stop shrinking and he comes back to earth, he can fight me again,” Covington said. “But the thing is, he’s off the grid. He’s probably got his phone on airplane mode, he’s denying all the UFC’s calls. He doesn’t want to sign the contract. He’s just hoping some alien invasion happens where he can pick some other lightweight washout to fight.”
Madison Square Garden has hosted four major UFC pay-per-view events, most recently UFC 244 in November 2019. The famed New York City arena has been off-limits due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions; in May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said venues can run at 100 capacity for fully vaccinated people, or in limited capacity with 50 percent vaccinated and 50 percent unvaccinated.