Madison Square garden in New York was home to a great day of fights at UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington. The card saw seven (T)KOs and seven decisions, including one split-decision.
Fight of the Night: Gaethje vs. Chandler
Performance of the Night: Vera, Barnett, Periera, Green
Gate: $9.8 million (fourth highest in MSG history)
The prelims started with Ode Osbourne taking a hard fought unanimous decision over CJ Vergara. That was followed by Melsik Baghdasarayan taking a unanimous decision over Bruno Souza. Dustin Jacoby would complete the opening trifecta of unanimous decisions when he defeated John Allan. Chris Barnett aka Huggy Bear would break the glut of decisions with a flashy wheel kick/punches combo that left Gian Villante in a crumpled heap after ferocious ground and pound finished the New Yorker in the second round. Irish sensation Ian Garry remains undefeated after he knocked out Jordan Williams in the first round, beating the buzzer by a second. Edemen Shabazyan took his third, straight loss at the hands of Nassourdine Imavov, in a fight that should be dubbed “Night of 1000 Guillotines”. Shabazyan would ultimately be put away via TKO in the second round. Phil Hawes would also succumb to strikes near the end of the first round, giving Chris Curtis a very big feather in his cap. Al Iaquinta fell just before the halfway point of the first round, eating a counter right knuckle sandwich from Bobby Green, then getting a dessert of ground-and-pound to finish him off. Alex Pereira might have lost the first round of his fight to Andreas Micheilidis but he made it for lost time by opening the second round with the flying knee from Hell, scoring a brutal 18-second knockout. Our two biggest debuting fighters certainly delivered on the hype!
Alex Pereira defeated Andreas Michailidis via KO (knee), :18 of round 2
Bobby Green defeated Al Iaquinta via TKO (strikes), 2:23 of round 1
Chris Curtis defeated Phil Hawes via KO (strikes), 4:27 of round 1
Nassourdine Imamov defeated Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO (strikes), 4:42 of round 2
Ian Garry defeated Jordan Williams via KO (punches), 4:59 of round 1
Chris Barnett defeated Gian Villante via TKO (wheel kick and punches), 2:23 of ound 2
Dustin Jacoby defeated John Allan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Melsik Baghdasarayan defeated Bruno Souza via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ode Osbourne defeated CJ Vergara via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The main card kicked off with Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler putting on an absolute war. Easily Fight of the Night and candidate for Fight of the Year. They beat the absolute crap out of each other but it was Gaethje who would take the unanimous decision. We saw Chandler dropped and nearly finished, Gaethtje rocked to a near fall, Chandler’s leg shredded to a pulp from low kicks and Gaehtje again getting some rock-em-sock-em treatment. It was an amazing fight and will be hard to top.
Billy Quarantillo and Shane Burgos followed up with a hellacious scrap of their own and on any other card not featuring Gaethje-Chandler, it would have easily taken FOTN. It was a back and forth war that saw both men have their moments but Burgos’ relentless attack on Billy’s lead leg and the power advantage would spell doom for the always game Quarantillo. No shame in that loss considering the Herculean effort Billy put forth.
Frankie Edgar looked really good for half the fight, controlling Vera with takedowns and top pressure. Vera was doing damage from the bottom, but Edgar certainly took the first round. Vera came back to take the second round. The third round was back and forth, but Vera’s focus was laser-tuned on Edgar’s chin and he finally found it with a nasty front kick that immediately put the former champ on the canvas. He protested the stoppage but it was clear the ref made the right call.
Weili Zhang started off very strong, easily taking round one and continued her momentum into round two, chewing up Rose’s lead leg in both rounds but towards the end, Namajunas landed a big takedown and finished on top. The third round saw a more composed Zhang being a bit more careful at the start but she quickly began boxing Rose up, outgrappling her, ending the round in mount. Round four saw Rose start working her boxing more, connecting more, but Weili stayed on that lead leg, and once again, outworked Namajunas on the ground for the first half of the round and Rose taking over the last half. Round five saw Rose come on strong, scoring a big takedown and staying heavy, throwing lots of heat. She maintained control for most of the round, stifling Zhang with lead blanket pressure, throwing bombs to the end. Namajunas would take the split-decision in what was an outstanding battle.
Colby Covington found himself outgunned from Jump Street with Kamaru Usman fighting smart and racking up plenty of damage. Round two saw much of the same but toward the end, Usman dropped Colby twice. Round three started off a carbon copy of the first but Colby started to get a little braver toward the end, even getting a flash takedown that didn’t count. Round four was the turning point for Covington, landing plenty of hard shots, kicks to the body and bombs up top that looked like they were stunning Usman. These last rounds are looking very much like the first fight. They are swinging! Going hard in the paint! Kamaru Usman would retain his title via unanimous decision but once again, we were treated to a certified banger. Fantastic card again!
Main Card Results
Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
Rose Namajunas defeated Zhang Weili via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46)
Marlon Vera defeated Frankie Edgar via KO (front kick), 3:50 of round 3
Shane Burgos defeated Billy Quarantillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler via unanimous decision (29-28,29-28, 30-27)