MMA: Usman defeats Covington to remain UFC welterweight champion

Kamaru Usman has now defended his title five times. PHOTO: REUTERS
Rose Namajunas (right) reacts against Zhang Weili in their strawweight title bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on Nov 6, 2021. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

NEVADA (NYT) - Kamaru Usman defended his welterweight championship, defeating his rival Colby Covington by unanimous decision.

Usman dropped Covington twice in the second round, nearly finishing him. But Covington recovered and was competitive for the rest of the fight, keeping a high pace, pinning Usman to the fence and also landing solid punches and a head kick.

One could argue that it could have been a split decision. Still, Usman connected on his attacks, too, and defended takedowns effectively. He performed at a high enough level to prevent the judges from taking away his belt.

In the end, the two rivals shook hands, a gesture that some would have not predicted after a year of trash talk and insults.

Usman has now defended his title five times and is marching closer to potentially usurping Georges St-Pierre as the greatest welterweight of all time. He said earlier this week that he would like to face Saúl Álvarez in a crossover boxing match.

In an earlier title bout, Rose Namajunas defended her strawweight championship against Zhang Weili via split decision in a competitive fight, a rematch of their last fight that ended in a knockout.

Namajunas ended the last round on top after securing a clean takedown, which could have been the difference. Both women showed their moments - Namajunas was the more effective striker while Zhang grappled and landed takedowns throughout. Namajunas did control the octagon and set the pace better while landing counterpunches.

The crowd leaned heavily toward Namajunas, an American, and booed Zhang, of China. Almost everyone seemed engaged, except Ultimate Fighting Championship president, Dana White, who was spotted cageside watching Álvarez's boxing match on a laptop.

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