UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Five reasons you can’t miss it!

Another chapter will be written in of the UFC’s most bitter rivalries this weekend as Kamaru Usman takes on Colby Covington at UFC 268, exclusively live from Madison Square Garden on BT Sport.

By George Mills Published: 5 November 2021 - 1.50pm

Two world title fights, one lightweight barnburner and the UFC debut of a highly rated Irish phenom; there’s quite a bit going on at UFC 268 this weekend to say the least!

Kamaru Usman will look to end the year in style as he makes his third and final Octagon walk of 2021 having dispatched of Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns in destructive fashion since February.

The pound-for-pound king takes on arch-nemesis and comic book villain Colby Covington in the fifth defence of his 170lb title and a rematch of their Fight of the Night affair at UFC 245 in 2019.

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Rose Namajunas also puts her world championship on the line in a rematch as she faces off against Zhang Weilli for strawweight honours looking to replicate a stunning first round knockout at UFC 261 in April.

And opening up the US pay-per-view portion of the card – which will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport 1 HD from 2am on Saturday night – Justin Gaethje makes his long-awaited return in a must-see showdown against Michael Chandler.

How to watch UFC 268

Click here for all the essential info you need on how to watch UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 on BT Sport this Saturday night.

Gaethje has not fought since being defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the Russian’s memorable farewell fight at UFC 254 in October last year but believes a win over all-action ex-UFC title challenger Chandler would catapult him right back into the picture atop the 155lb division.

With all that coming your way plus much more, here’s why you need to keep it locked in to BT Sport for UFC 268 this Saturday night.

King Kamaru can’t be stopped

It’s no exaggeration to say we are witnessing history in the making every time Kamaru Usman steps foot inside the Octagon.

Now undefeated in 14 contests since joining the promotion, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ seems to be getting better every time we see him.

A jaw-spinning knockout of the durable Jorge Masvidal last time out only served to underline Usman’s burgeoning credentials as one of the greatest to ever do it.

His dominance of the current welterweight landscape is almost difficult to comprehend.

He has defended 100 percent of all opponents’ takedown attempts in UFC competition, the highest rate in company history; his 14-fight UFC winning streak at welterweight is the longest active streak in the division, and the longest overall in divisional history; only Anderson Silva has recorded a longer win streak (16) in UFC history.

With good reason, Usman, 19-1, strides into battle on Saturday night a confident man, telling Michael Bisping this week: “I expect the best Colby there ever was and I try to do that [of my opponents] each and every fight.

“I expect the most dangerous, the most violent fights, so nothing surprises me when I go in there.

“I expect him to do the same. If he’s done his homework, it’s going to be a fun fight. But if he hasn’t, I’ll put him away early. I guarantee you.”

Another victory on Saturday night would see the 33-year-old take another stride towards Georges St-Pierre’s record of nine welterweight title defences.

Can Usman deliver – or will there be a twist in this tale of revenge?

Colby: the killer of kings?

The UFC’s most controversial character returns for a second crack at the undisputed welterweight strap on Saturday night as Colby Covington strides into the Octagon with ambitions of upsetting the pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman.

Covington, 16-2, came up short during a pulsating Fight of the Night war the first time these two men met back at UFC 245 in December 2019 but believed referee Mark Goddard called a premature halt to the contest in the fifth round.

It was not a consensus widely held among the MMA fraternity but it provided Covington with a narrative to cling on to as he worked to earn a shot at redemption against Usman via a comfortable win over Tyron Woodley.

On skillset alone, Covington looks like the best equipped contender among his contemporaries to end Usman’s lengthy 170lb championship tenure, as evidenced by his effort during a gutsy showing at UFC 245.

Even Usman heaped praise on Covington’s technical ability, despite his obvious dislike for the MAGA movement’s most famous fighting son.

“I would put him in the top 15 welterweights of all time, as far as fighter-wise, and skill-wise, and the way that he fights,” Usman said.

“You might not like him personally, which I really don’t, but as far as skill-wise, I know he’s a good fighter, a very, very good fighter.”

“I reckon Colby can stop him in the third round”
- Paul Craig

So does Colby stand a chance in the rematch?

A skilled wrestler and grappler able to negate arguably Usman’s best form of offense, Covington can match the champion stride for stride on the mat – but will need to show he has matched Usman’s evolution in the striking department to have any chance of beating him.

Just two knockouts from his 11 UFC wins show the 33-year-old has not always relied upon his striking – but there are those who believe the colourful Californian can get the job done.

"This is no fairy-tale, he's no prince charming. He's not the nicest guy in the UFC. But belts changing hands makes the sport better and that's what I like to see, so I'm saying Colby and I reckon he can stop him in the third round," UFC light heavyweight Paul Craig told the BBC this week.

Will his words prove prophetic?

Thug Rose defends the throne

Any time Rose Namajunas steps foot inside the Octagon, it’s appointment viewing.

One of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster, the 29-year-old became a two-time strawweight world champion last time out as she stopped Zhang Weili with a stunning head kick inside 90 seconds.

The 29-year-old now has the most knockdowns in UFC strawweight history as well as the most stoppages and only Jessica Andrade has pocketed for fight night bonuses than Namajunas.

But every fighter needs a dance partner and Weili is more than capable of playing her part in the rematch.

The Chinese star will be keen to make amends for a premature defeat last time out as she parted ways with the belt without managing to make much of a mark in the contest.

Weili’s pressure style and technical ability make her a formidable match for anyone in the 115lb division and the 32-year-old believes her loss to ‘Thug Rose’ earlier this year has only made her improve as a fighter.

“Before I talked about loss, I didn’t think a loss was a good thing,” Weili told reporters this week.

“But after I lost last fight, I think a lot. I see the loss as a pretty good thing for me, and it’s kind of like a treasure for me to learn more about myself and fighting.”

Will it be repeat or revenge in a battle of these two lion-hearted fighters?

Don’t miss the curtain-raiser

The UFC announced earlier this week that Justin Gaethje’s scheduled lightweight contest against Michael Chandler would open the pay-per-view portion of UFC 268 this weekend.

Not that we’re complaining – we just don’t want you to miss it!

In fact, it could be an absolute masterstroke from the promotion with two of the most exciting competitors on the roster promising to throw down in the name of beautiful violence at the iconic Madison Square Garden.

Justin Gaethje should need no introduction to UFC fans these days but having been out of action for a little over a year now, there’s no harm in a reminder of ‘The Highlight’s credentials.

He’s the only fighter ever to win a fight night bonus in each of his first seven UFC contests; his nine fight night bonuses are the most of any fighter since 2017; he’s won 20 of 22 contests by stoppage and he is the former interim 155lb king.

After a whirlwind ascent and subsequent bruising fall through the lightweight rankings, Gaethje now appears to have found the delicate balance between reckless aggression and controlled Octagon intelligence that has seen him return to reckoning among the lightweight elite.

“I had to go back to the drawing board and I had to understand the skills that my coach had been developing over the years,” he told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole.

“So now I’m utilizing those skills more than I’m utilizing my toughness or my heart.”

But if there is one man bound to test his toughness and heart, it is former Bellator king Michael Chandler.

“This fight has all the makings of being fight of the year!”
- Michael Chandler

In his two fights in the UFC so far – a crushing KO of Dan Hooker and near-miss during a back-and-forth thriller for the belt against Charles Oliveira – Chandler has shown intent with echoes of Gaethje’s all-action style.

A talented wrestler with thunder in both fists, the 35-year-old is not here to play around and Chandler believes fans should be set for a classic on Saturday night.

"I've heard a lot of people say this is the people's main event because every single time either of us steps in the cage we've been in a highly-anticipated, high-paced, fun, and somewhat chaotic fight,” he explained.

"This fight has all the makings of being fight of the night and possibly even fight of the year."

You have been warned – don’t miss it!

The Future is here

It feels like almost every other week we hear of fighters aiming to become the ‘next Conor McGregor’.

Few of them possess the skillset and charisma to manifest that destiny – but Ian Garry does.

The slick Irish striker, nicknamed 'The Future', is one of the hottest prospects in European MMA and will make his UFC debut on the prelims at UFC 268 this weekend having secured the Cage Warriors welterweight strap on his last appearance.

He comes with the stamp of approval from former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who told talkSPORT this week: “He has got a massive opportunity on Saturday night; he’s making his UFC debut, he is undefeated, he’s 23 years old and he is fighting at Madison Square Garden.

“Paddy Pimblett did great, but he debuted at the Apex and he still killed it.

“Making your debut at Madison Square Garden, New York City, the media capital of the world, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.

“He’s a former Cage Warriors champion, history tells us those guys do very, very well.”

Will we be witnessing the first steps in another truly great UFC career? Find out on Saturday night.