Just because someone is an asshole, it doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. Colby Covington proved it once again, securing his biggest scalp in terms of name value by taking down Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272. It was a vintage Covington performance, utilizing extreme pressure with flurries of punches and relentless takedown attempts. Masvidal had some bright moments, including a moment in the fourth where he dropped Covington to a knee for a brief moment. Unfortunately, Masvidal failed to capitalize and Covington had hurt him with a lengthy punching combination earlier in the round, meaning it wasn’t a given Masvidal even took that round. Many will continue to question whether they’re feud was legitimate, but it wasn’t a sparring session the former teammates and roommates went through.
The win ensures Covington remains in the Jon Fitch role of turning away anyone the UFC doesn’t want challenging Kamaru Usman for the title. Then again, the UFC needs someone worthwhile to emerge to challenge Usman, so Covington’s callout of Dustin Poirier makes perfect sense, especially given Poirier isn’t in the immediate title picture at lightweight either. I’d be surprised if that fight doesn’t happen. As for Masvidal, he’s in Nate Diaz territory: a loss doesn’t hurt him very much. People will still tune in to see Street Jesus. I’d imagine someone will have to call him out as he isn’t the type to look for someone on a rung below him. Regardless, don’t expect Masvidal to be fighting any time soon.
As for the rest of the event....
- Rafael dos Anjos got the W, but it was the heart and toughness of Renato Moicano that will be the lasting image of their fight. Taking the fight on roughly five days, Moicano put up a spirited effort in a fight that went all five rounds. But after a few bright spots early, his chances to win became slim to none with most people believing the fight should have been stopped by Marc Goddard in the third round. Dos Anjos took his foot off the gas down the stretch, allowing Moicano to go the distance and have a spirited performance in the closing seconds. However, if anyone had their stock boosted, it was Moicano in the loss.
- No one was surprised to see Bryce Mitchell beat Edson Barboza. The manner in which Mitchell dominated Barboza was completely shocking. Not that Barboza hasn’t been dominated on the ground, but it was by the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee in his prime. But by a skinny Mitchell known more for submissions than bullying his opponents? It happened and Mitchell solidified himself as a top featherweight in the process of his decision win.
- Kevin Holland NEEDED to win his welterweight debut. There were moments when it looked like he wouldn’t. Alex Oliveira came out strong, landing some heavy shots and trapping Holland in a RNC attempt to close the round. However, Oliveira’s body has been through the wringer and he couldn’t withstand the right hook from Holland, giving the fan favorite a victory in his welterweight debut. As for Oliviera, he suffered his fourth consecutive loss. I know he’s a favorite of the brass, but that may be too much for him to withstand.
- The majority of the MMA community celebrated when Sergey Spivak pounded out former NFL All-Pro Greg Hardy. Not that it was a surprise as Hardy’s ground game has long been a known Achilles heel. Spivak wore out Hardy by allowing him to climb to his feet several times before achieving mount and pounding him out from there. That could be the end of the road for Hardy as it’s his third consecutive loss.
- It’s safe to say Jalin Turner has come into his own. The lanky lightweight controlled the cage with a confidence previously unseen, dealing with an uber-tough Jamie Mullarkey. Brad Riddell couldn’t finish Mullarkey, but Turner manhandled him and put him away with a brutal hook early in the second. Don’t be surprised if Turner is fighting a ranked opponent in his next fight.
- In a night full of controversial scorecards, perhaps the most consequential one of the night saw Marina Rodriguez edge Yan Xiaonan via split decision. Xiaonan looked improved by leaps and bounds, utilizing excellent footwork and angles to make Rodriguez look silly the first half of the fight. Rodriguez adjusted and began landing some heavy artillery to steal the second round in the eyes of two judges and took advantage of a flagging Xiaonan to take the third. She has the resume to fight for the title, but she’ll need to wait for Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza to settle their score... if she’s fortunate to have it play out that way.
- There always seems to be at least one forgettable fight on every card. Kennedy Nzechukwu and Nick Negumereanu took the honor for UFC 272. Negumereanu was more aggressive, but a far cry from his typical self as he struggled to navigate the long reach of Nzechukwu. A point deduction to Nzechukwu for an eye poke had most scoring the fight a draw at worst, but two judges somehow saw Negumereanu taking two of the three rounds. Don’t ask me how as Nzechukwu comfortably outworked him.
- It was impossible to know the state of mind of Maryna Moroz heading into her fight with teammate-turned-rival Mariya Agapova. After all, Moroz is from Ukraine and it’s not like that wouldn’t mess with her head either. Moroz showed no emotions in her performance putting on an incredibly disciplined performance, smothering and eventually submitting Agapova in round two. The emotions finally poured out in her post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the crowd showing Moroz immense support.
- Brian Kelleher isn’t a scrub. Umar Nurmagomedov made him look like one. At no point was Kelleher competitive with Khabib’s cousin as Nurmagomedov dominated Kelleher in all phases of the fight before locking up a tight RNC that forced Kelleher to tap. I’m not prepared to call Nurmagomedov a future champion, but it’s looking more like it’s going to be a reality with every passing fight.
- Is it just me, or does it seem the best versions of Tim Elliott emerge when he’s the underdog? Though I’m of the opinion the crowd influenced the way the judges’ saw things, it was a strong performance from Elliott to snatch a win from the favored Tagir Ulanbekov. Ulanbekov was in control most of the fight, but Elliott had more big moments, such as a knockdown in the first. Elliott slowed late, but hung on to take the decision.
- L’udovit Klein may call featherweight his home, but he may want to reconsider that given he has yet to pick up a win there in the UFC. On the flip side, he’s undefeated in the organization at every other weight he has fought at. Devonte Smith had some good moments, including a slew of kicks to open the second, but the fight came down to who had their foot to the gas more. It turned out it was Klein, recording another short notice victory for him.
- It took a round for Dustin Jacoby to get going, but it was clear who the superior fighter was between himself and Michal Oleksiejczuk after three rounds had passed. Jacoby did acknowledge some injuries, helping to explain the lack of kicks in his attack, something the commentary booth could get over. A flurry of offense from Jacoby to open the second round was the turning point, making it six fights without a loss since his UFC return. Does a ranked opponent await?