UFC 268 results, highlights: Kamaru Usman retains welterweight crown in brutal battle with Colby Covington
Usman and Covington went to war over five grueling rounds once again with Usman earning the decision
After sharing the Octagon for nearly 10 full rounds across two fights, Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington finally shared a hug and admitted a level of mutual respect. That moment came after the main event of UFC 268 on Saturday night, a fight where Usman retained the welterweight championship with a unanimous decision win inside New York City's Madison Square Garden.
The rematch didn't have the same torrid pace as the first meeting between the two in December 2019. That fight saw the men combine for more than 300 significant strikes landed before Usman scored a TKO late in the fifth round. This go-round, both men showed respect for the other man's power, picking and choosing when to engage with strikes.
Covington even chose to mix wrestling into his attack, trying to give Usman different looks and concerns. Usman was perfect in his takedown defense coming into the fight, having defended 20 of 20 attempted takedowns in his UFC career. Covington still used the threat to open up new attacking lanes, even as Usman actually won the wrestling exchanges with Covington failing on all 11 of his takedown attempts.
The biggest moment of the fight came in the second round when Usman dropped Covington twice with right hands near the end of the round.
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Despite having clearly been hurt 90 seconds earlier, Covington came out for the third round and continued to be dangerous with effective body kicks and combination punching that kept Usman from fully unloading. Those body kicks paid off in the fourth round, with Usman appearing to have been hurt when one landed solidly.
With the fight hanging in the balance entering the final round, Usman was able to lean on his sharp jab to control the action and separate him in the championship rounds.
Ultimately, Usman had done enough after five rounds to earn the nod on the judges' scorecards, winning by scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
After the final horn sounded, Usman and Covington hugged with Covington appearing to admit that his trash talk was just a matter of helping the fight do better business before the fighters acknowledged their mutual respect.
"I just gotta give it up," Usman said after the fight. "I know there was a lot of trash talk and bad blood and there's still going to be some after tonight. But he's a tough son of a b---. ... I mean, when you share an octagon with someone this tough, you can't help it. That respect is going to come. He hit me with some shots and I could tell they've been working on it. The power came up a little bit and I could tell they had been working on it. I had to give him that respect."
Covington, a notorious character who throws as many verbal barbs as punches, took the loss in stride.
"I had my moments," Covington said. "I wobbled him a couple times at the end of the round and I wasn't able to capitalize. He had the better night."
That's not all, however. Women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas took home a split decision over Weili Zhang in their rematch from April to retain the title. Namajunas is now not only the first two-time women's champion in promotional history, but also the first to successfully defend the title at least once in both reigns.
Plus, Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler delivered one for the ages with an epic brawl over 15 minutes to start the PPV. Gaethje earned the decision after bloodying and dropping Chandler multiple times in the fight, but he also took his fair share of damage throughout the contest. Gaethje is likely to get the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier next for the lightweight title.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 268 below.
UFC 268 card and results
- Kamaru Usman (c) def. Colby Covington (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
- Rose Namajunas (c) def. Weili Zhang via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)
- Marlon Vera def. Frankie Edgar via third-round knockout (kick, punches)
- Shane Burgos def. Billy Quarantillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Alex Pereira def. Andreas Michailids via second-round knockout (knee)
- Bobby Green def. Al Iaquinta via first-round TKO (punches)
- Chris Curtis def. Phil Hawes via first-round TKO (strikes)
- Nassourdine Imavov def. Edmen Shahbazyan via second-round TKO (punches, elbows)
- Ian Garry def. Jordan Williams via first-round knockout (punches)
- Chris Barnett def. Gian Villante via second-round TKO (kick, punches)
- Dustin Jacoby def. John Allan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Melsik Baghdasaryan def. Bruno Souza via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ode Osbourne def. CJ Vergara via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Official result: Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) to retain the UFC welterweight championship
Unofficial scorecard: 49-45 Usman
The action resumed and Covington threw a few body kicks that missed and Usman launched a big head kick that was blocked. The two men share a hug after the fight and seem to have made peace.
A doctor is in to check Covington's eye now.
Covington landed an elbow on the brek. Usman with an eye poke in the final minute and the action breaks for Covington to recover.
Usman landed a body punch and then went right back to popping out his jab. Usman slipped moving out of the way of a head kick and Covington charged in to initiate a clinch against the cage.
Covington shot for the takedown and Usman sprawled out to defend. Usman continued to fire out the jab and then let a right hand go behind it. Usman missed with a head kick and threw a right hand only for Covington to return fire with two punches.
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington -- Round 5: Covington landed a hard left hand early. Usman landed a punch to the body and a heavy jab that backed up Covington. Usman then cracked with a right hand and Covington hit a big uppercut before shooting in.
Covington pinned Usman against the cage for a bit before a few elbows on the break. Good round for Covington. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Covington (39-36 Usman)
Usman landed a heavy left hand and a follow-up right. Covington with a heavy body kick that seemed to hurt Usman and forced Usman to throw wild punches. Covington landed a few more good punches as he put together his best round of the fight before shooting for a takedown.
Covington lands a few big shots in a flurry. Usman worked back to his jab and a few right hands, buzzing Covington. Usman landed a solid punch to the body as well, continuing to mix those punches into his attack.
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington -- Round 4: Usman works the jab early and Covington lands a good right hand. Covington also lands a hard jab but eats one in return. Usman landed a body kick and slipped a Covington uppercut while landing a jab.
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