With his decision win over Colby Covington at UFC 268, Kamaru Usman retained his UFC welterweight title, kept his UFC record unblemished at 15-0 and remained perfect in takedown defense. The last item on Usman’s post-fight checklist was not without controversy.
Here’s the breakdown as to why the takedown that Covington attempted deep into the third stanza, which was Covington’s best attempt of 11 on the night, was not scored in his favor.
Late in the third round, Usman and Covington exchanged some good strikes on the feet. With 19 seconds left in the round the two men locked up in the center of the cage. Covington then used his wrestling skills to slip behind Usman and lock his hands around the champions waist. A trip from Covington took Usman to the mat, where he was very briefly on all fours, with Covington locked to his waist. From there, Usman got back to his feet for a second before Covington once again forced the fight to the mat. Like the first brief trip to the ground, Usman hit all fours and Covington stayed locked on his waist. Again Usman got to his feet before Covington forced him to one knee. Usman once again got back to his feet and the men finished the third round against the fence.
After the round ended and the fighters returned to their corners, Joe Rogan informed Cormier that Covington’s effort did not count as a takedown.
“That was a takedown Joe Rogan,” said Cormier.
At the start of the fourth stanza, Jon Anik, in a statement that seemed to be made to cast doubt upon the official scorers, said, “So, the two-time United States Olympian, Daniel Cormier, does not wield enough power to effect change with our statisticians.”
A flustered Cormier replied, “I don’t know how to count a takedown. I mean, that’s a takedown, man… they’re better, they know wrestling better.”
Rogan then added that he was told, “He did not maintain enough control for it to count.”
Cormier then offered his thoughts, “When you’re behind somebody and those two knees go to the mat, that’s a takedown, that’s two (points).”
Din Thomas also pitched in, saying he agreed with Cormier.
To be blunt, it was not a takedown and I will tell you why, but first the wording of what is a takedown in NCAA wrestling and what is considered a takedown in the UFC (UFC and not MMA because FightMetric is the official scorer for the UFC).
NCAA rule: “from the neutral position, a competitor gains control of the opponent by taking the opponent down to the mat in bounds and beyond reaction.”
UFC scoring: “A takedown is awarded when a fighter deliberately grapples his opponent to the ground and establishes an advantageous position for an appreciable amount of time.”
The big difference and the one Cormier and others who are stuck on a wrestling-based mindset when in comes to UFC takedowns is “advantageous position for an appreciable amount of time.”
Covington did not establish an advantageous position on the mat. His mat position and standing position were the same. He was locked on Usman’s waist standing, he remained locked on Usman’s waist when they hit the mat and he stayed locked around the champ’s waist when they got back to their feet. Not once during the entire sequence did Covington establish an “advantageous position,” he was just holding on and that is why Usman went 11-for-11 in takedown defense at UFC 268.
One can discuss if they agree with the language and interpretation of that language when it comes to UFC takedowns, but one cannot say that Covington was ever in an “advantageous position for an appreciable amount of time” during that takedown attempt.
It wasn’t a takedown.