It may not be a title fight, but many consider Saturday’s UFC 272 headliner between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal to be a high-stakes matchup. Apart from the grudge match angle, the fight determines each man’s place at the top of the UFC’s welterweight division.
UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik, for one, feels there will be “a lot of clarity at 170 pounds” after the fight is over.
“I think it’s very interesting stylistically because a lot of people feel like Covington is gonna be a 5-to-1 favorite and has all the advantages in terms of where this fight is gonna take place,” he told MMA Fighting in a recent interview.
“I like the fact that it’s gonna be in a 30-foot octagon at the T-Mobile Arena, and some people think I make too much of that, but I do feel like the little [cage] favors the grappler, so I think for Masvidal, it’s better to have this fight in a 30-footer.
“But yeah, man, it’s fascinating. There’s a lot of different layers to it, and if Covington is going to get a third crack at Usman — who presumably is going to fight Leon Edwards next — this is a fight he absolutely has to win, and I think the same could be said for Masvidal.
“I think whoever loses this fight is probably never gonna fight for the belt again.”
Anik says he saw firsthand how Covington and Masvidal treated each other before they had a falling out. And he believes the grudge match angle will play a big role in the fight.
“I get anxious when I’m asked about this fight, and in the best of ways as a sports fan thinking about these guys making the walk,” he said. “When there’s heat on a matchup — and there most definitely is here — it elevates everything for the fighters, the fans, the broadcasters.
“If you asked me if I would rather a fight be [with] the ultimate sportsmanship, hugging before the third round, or do I want them hating each other, I would certainly lead towards them hating each other.
“I’ve sat behind Covington and Masvidal on an airplane when they were buddy-buddy sitting next to each other. They weren’t just friends — they were boys, man. Obviously, that’s a very unique backdrop to this fight.”
UFC 272 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.