Through two rounds, the UFC 268 main event rematch between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington seemed ill-conceived.
Kamaru Usman (20-1), of Denver by way of Nigeria, won their first fight nearly two years ago at UFC 245. And he nearly finished this bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden when he dropped Covington (16-3) twice in the closing seconds of the second round.
Covington, though, showed tremendous tenacity by rallying in Rounds 3 and 4 with crisp striking, putting the fight’s result in question.
That’s when Kamaru Usman showed championship mettle. He clamped down in Round 5 with crisp striking and a little more in the gas tank, and held on for a unanimous decision in the title bout.
The judges scores were 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for the champ.
“I know there’s a lot of trash talk and there’s a lot of bad blood here, and there’s probably still gonna be some after tonight, but this guy is tough …” said Usman, who successfully defended his belt for the fifth time.