Kamaru Usman gives credit where credit is due, and he is doing that by praising Colby Covington ahead of their highly anticipated rematch at UFC 268 next month.
The UFC welterweight champion and No. 1 contender will share the Octagon again nearly two years removed from their meeting at UFC 245, where Usman stunned Covington and retained his championship with a fifth-round technical knockout. It was a thrilling ending to a fight shrouded in animosity considering some of the pre-fight and post-fight comments that were and continue to be made by ‘Chaos’. While the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ is definitely no fan of the adopted shtick of his foe outside of the Octagon, he can still respect his work inside of the Octagon.
Usman recently told Helen Yee that Covington is among some of the greatest welterweights in the sport.
“He’s definitely up there,” said Usman. “I’m no hater. I give props where props are due. I think Colby probably is, I would put him in the top-15 welterweights of all time, as far as fighter-wise and skill-wise, the way that he fights. You may not like him personally, which I really don’t, but as far as skill-wise, he’s a very good fighter. A very, very good fighter.”
As good as his rival is, Usman does not believe Covington can do anything to produce a different result in the rematch. He expects the MMA Masters product to try his damnedest to avoid another loss, but Usman feels as though the second fight will be a lot like the first one.
“I think we were both content with understanding that was a Mano a Mano,” said Usman. “We needed to duke it out, we needed to go back in the day and just throw fisticuffs and see who got the better of the other. I told him, I said that I would punish him for four and a half rounds and I would finish him, and that’s exactly what I did. I think obviously in this next fight, he’s going to try to be a little more strategic but he’s going to quickly realize that’s not going to work, so you’re just stuck in there getting beat up.”
Another finish over Covington may satisfy Usman, but his ultimate goal is to dominate his opponent. If he can do that, then he is fine with whatever the outcome will be this time around.
“It doesn’t matter. Finish or not, the way I fight I want to dominate a guy from start to finish. I want to outclass a guy. I want a guy to go home, when they lay down in bed at night, they’re like, ’S—t, that guy’s better than me. There was nothing I can do to beat him’ and that’s what I want. That’s the feeling that I want to live with these guys each and every time they compete against me. So whether I finish him or not, I want him to have that feeling. But of course, the finish is great and that’s something people highly anticipate from me right now.”