Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington went back and forth Thursday during a heated news conference, fueled by a crowd starved for conflict. Usman shoved Covington during the staredown, sending the fans to another level of raucousness.
There has not been a major MMA show in New York City in two years, but on Saturday, the big show returns to the Big Apple.
Usman defends his UFC welterweight title against Covington in the main event of UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden. The two fought at UFC 245 in December 2019 with Usman winning via fifth-round TKO in what is considered one of the best title fights in UFC history.
ESPN ranks Usman as No.1 on its pound-for-pound list. At welterweight, Usman is No. 1 and Covington is No. 3. On Saturday, Usman will look to further his legacy as one of the best 170-pound fighters ever against Covington, who is trying to prove that Usman’s TKO win two years ago was just a one-time occurrence.
Usman (19-1) has 14 straight wins in the UFC — the second-longest such UFC streak behind only Anderson Silva (16), who is considered one of the best of all time. The Nigeria-born Usman,
who lives in Florida and trains in Colorado, is coming off a second-round knockout win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in April. Usman, 34, has four title defenses and is chasing the welterweight record of nine set by Georges St-Pierre.
Covington (16-2) has won eight of his last nine fights, with the only loss during that span coming to Usman. The California-born Covington, fighting out of Florida, has not fought since a fifth-round TKO win over Tyron Woodley in September 2020. Covington, 34, is the former UFC interim welterweight champion.
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In the co-main event, UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas defends her title against former champ Zhang Weili. Namajunas (10-4), a 29-year-old fighting out of Colorado, stopped Zhang in the first round with a head kick at UFC 261.
Zhang (21-2), the first-ever UFC champion born in China, had her 21-fight winning streak snapped by Namajunas seven months ago.
Also on the card, former interim UFC lightweight champion Justin Gaethje faces former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler in what could be a title eliminator.
Plus, former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar meets Marlon “Chito” Vera in a bantamweight bout, and Al Iaquinta faces Bobby Green in a battle of fan-favorite lightweights