Presented in partnership with UFC 245 on ESPN+
Check this out: The last time UFC champion Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman finished a fight, I was sitting in a cliffside motel overlooking the Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska.
Actually, the location is not what’s important here, but rather, the date.
It was the same day as the first Canelo vs. GGG fight, on September 16, 2017.
What’s significant about that date is that it was hella long ago! However, it’s not as ancient as August 20, 2016 — that’s the date of the second Diaz vs. McGregor fight at UFC 202. Not so coincidentally, that’s also the last time Colby “Chaos” Covington finished a fight.
I was in the arena that night in Las Vegas, and fondly recall watching the beatdown from the Bud Light lounge in the T-Mobile Arena.
All of this is a bit off center because the focus of this article is the upcoming UFC 245 main event between Usman and Covington on December 14, which airs on Pay Per View on ESPN+. But, the idea is basically that despite any and all criticisms of both the champion and the challenger, their styles and finishing percentages, the winner of the bout is positioned to walk away a major player in 2020. In particular, champion Usman.
Here are the specifics …
Cleaning Up the “Chaos”
Despite winning the UFC welterweight title in March 2019, Kamaru Usman has yet to defend his belt. The inactivity has limited his ability to raise his profile, but that can all change at UFC 245.
See, Usman is an exceptional athlete and specimen, but he’s also one of the lesser known UFC champions. It’s tough to fathom that a guy who is undefeated inside the Octagon, having climbed up the ranks after winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2015, could still be under the radar, even with a UFC title around his waist. But Usman, for better or worse, has kept a rather low profile.
At UFC 245, however, Kamaru Usman has the opportunity to seriously boost his brand, while simultaneously fulfilling the fantasies of the UFC welterweight roster, half of American Top Team, and the entire nation of Brazil. He has the chance to punch Colby Covington in the face, beat him up, get paid handsomely, and did I mention punch Colby Covington in the face?
It’s thee absolute perfect scenario for “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
The Implications for Usman
Aside from the fact that Usman vs. Covington is statistically the best fight on paper that the UFC can make in the welterweight division right now, there are a number of important factors to consider in terms of what the fight means.
Because Usman has remained mostly anonymous, and because Covington has divided the MMA audience between haters and frantic fratboy followers, the UFC essentially created the BMF title, which currently belongs to fellow welterweight Jorge Masvidal. In some respects Masvidal has almost leapfrogged the actual champion and the former interim champ in terms of calling his shot in the division, and if Usman or Covington want to recapture the momentum and narrative at welterweight, they’ll need to walk, and talk, and fight, and finish like a superstar. It’s the only way to assert dominance at 170 pounds.
Usman, in particular, can make an enormous splash with a win in the UFC 245 main event. No matter how he beats Covington, so long as he’s brash, and verbal, and perhaps even a bit disrespectful, Usman has the chance to capitalize on the ESPN+ PPV platform, taking out the biggest heel in mixed martial arts today. He can also choose to call out Masvidal after the fight, which is absolutely the biggest fight out there for Kamaru Usman after Colby Covington.
The entire future is literally there for the taking for Kamaru Usman, sitting on a platter, as he headlines his first UFC Pay Per View event (he’s actually only been on one other PPV main card in his entire career). All he needs to do is silence the biggest talker in the UFC, and finish Colby Covington.
It’s no small feat. But then again, why should it be?
If Kamaru Usman wants it all, he can have it all at UFC 245. Let’s see if he’s up to the challenge.
The UFC 245 PPV main card on ESPN+ begins at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST.
UFC 245 PPV main card (ESPN+)
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington – UFC welterweight title fight
Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski – UFC featherweight title fight
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie – UFC bantamweight title fight
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes
Urijah Faber vs. Petr Yan
UFC 245 Preliminaries (ESPN 2) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
Mike Perry vs. Geoff Neal
Ketlen Vieira vs. Irene Aldana
Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders
Ian Heinisch vs. Omari Akhmedov
UFC 245 Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass) 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:30 p.m. EST
Chase Hooper vs. David Teymur
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
Jessica Eye vs. Viviane Araujo
Punahele Soriano vs. Oskar Piechota
*Fight Card Subject to Change
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