UFC Connected - Episode 10Dec 1
UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal - Five reasons you can't afford to miss it
Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will put to bed one of the most bitter rivalries in the UFC this weekend, as they face off in an unmissable welterweight clash at UFC 272.
Another weekend, another cracking fight card coming your way from the UFC on BT Sport, as we bring you exclusive coverage of UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
As long-time fans of the sport will know, headline fights on numbered cards are normally reserved for championship contests – but this weekend will be slightly different.
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Instead, the main event sees two best friends turned mortal enemies aim to settle their differences through the medium of violence as Colby Covington takes on Jorge Masvidal in the showpiece of a cracking bill of fights.
Here are five reasons you don’t want to miss any of the action this Saturday night on BT Sport 1HD.
The ultimate grudge match
Nowadays, fans and promoters are quick to try and ascribe meaning onto almost any fight, desperate for a narrative to emerge that can ramp up the intrigue before two athletes do battle inside the Octagon.
The main event this weekend needs no such additional noise.
It sees former American Top Team comrades Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal settle a long-running feud that has transformed their relationship from best friends to sworn enemies.
They were close for a number of years while campaigning in the UFC, with the breakdown between the pair reportedly beginning around 2017, the same time Covington underwent something of a character revolution.
Courting controversy and carnage at almost every opportunity, Covington turned himself into the heel of the UFC – even at the expense of relationships with his team-mates, provoking or ridiculing them publicly for the pursuit of headlines.
It was an about-face that did not sit well with Masvidal who believed Covington to have committed a treacherous sin by turning on his American Top Team family, made worse by the superficiality of Covington’s new-found persona.
Over the past few years the pair have frequently traded barbs and Covington has often goaded Masvidal with increasingly personal attacks.
You a dead man walking
- Covington on Masvidal
And with both men vying among the upper echelons of the welterweight division, a showdown between the pair appeared all but inevitable at some point.
It took a lucky break to make it however, after Masvidal’s scheduled bout against Leon Edwards fell through when the veteran picked up an injury late last year.
In the meantime, Covington fell short against Kamaru Usman on his second attempt at 170lb gold, paving the way for a mouth-watering return to action against the recently-recovered Masvidal.
The build-up has been predictably spicy with Covington telling Masvidal this week: “You a dead man walking, you’ve got seven days to live, enjoy those last seven days."
Masvidal had earlier told MMA Junkie: “[Covington is] definitely [the most] disliked [opponent]. It’s nothing personal, it’s business.
“I’m hoping that the referee on the way to pulling me off him slips on a banana peel and I get some extra shots in, really change his life and his face structure.”
Who will keep their head in the most personal of battles?
Time waits for no man
For all their personal differences heading into the main event at UFC 272, Covington and Masvidal also have some similar history upon which to reflect amid the context of their forthcoming welterweight showdown.
Both men have challenged twice for the welterweight crown and both men have failed to usurp the reigning king Kamaru Usman.
Neither really got close, if truth be told.
Where then does that leave the victor of this contest on Saturday night? And what fate awaits the loser?
It appears unlikely that a win would grant either man an immediate trilogy with Usman – and an untimely defeat would put even further distance between the loser and dreams of UFC gold.
Coupled with an increasingly dangerous class of welterweight contenders making moves up the ladder – the likes of Sean Brady, Khamzat Chimaev and Shavkat Rakhmonov – the cost of failure looks a pricey one after this weekend.
The other factor that should not be disregarded is age; Covington, at 34, certainly has a lot less to lose in that regard than Masvidal who celebrated his 37th birthday in November.
Would the first three-fight losing skid of Masvidal’s career be enough to close the door on his credentials as a welterweight contender?
Does Covington have enough credit in the bank to rebound from what would be a third defeat in four?
And could either man really afford to take the scenic route back to the top? All these questions will be answered!
Rafael dos Anjos has endured something of a nightmare 18 months since returning to lightweight in a Fight of the Night victory against Paul Felder.
Sidelined ever since that fight in November 2020 through a combination of misfortune, injury and more misfortune, dos Anjos will make his long-awaited comeback this weekend in a co-main event appearance that almost did not happen - again.
The 37-year-old Brazilian had been set to face rising 155lb contender Rafael Fiziev in the chief support slot on Saturday night but the Kazakh striker was forced to withdraw this week after testing positive for Covid.
That comes after the bout – which had been set to take place two weeks ago – was postponed previously in order to rectify Fiziev’s visa issues and subsequently scheduled for UFC 272.
Thankfully, dos Anjos’ countryman Renato Moicano answered the call to rescue the show at the 11th hour and will step in for a five-round showdown against dos Anjos three weeks after defeating Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271.
Moicano has fought over five rounds only once before – but lost less than a minute into the first round of a main event showdown against Chan Sung Jung.
Riding a two-fight win streak into this bout however, the 32-year-old has seized on an opportunity to parachute into the lofty heights of the 155lb rankings if he manages to pull off a statement win over dos Anjos.
Who will triumph in this battle of the Brazilians?
Thug Nasty’s big test
Bryce Mitchell has been making a lot of noise in the UFC since being picked up during season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Despite exiting that tournament at the semi-final stage following defeat to Brad Katona, Mitchell showed enough to convince the UFC brass that he was worth taking a chance on.
And their intuition has so far proved correct with the 27-year-old featherweight contender now unbeaten in five since joining the promotion to extend his perfect professional record to 14-0.
A grappling phenom with nine submissions to his name, including a 2019 Submission of the Year against Matt Sayles, Mitchell has done all that has been asked of him in his fledgling career to date.
Bryce Mitchell is stepping up in competition
- Michael Bisping
But now, with a number 11 next to his name in the 145lb division, the Arkansas fighter must begin to face the challenges that come with contender status in the UFC, beginning with the legendary Edson Barboza.
“Bryce Mitchell is stepping up in competition,” Michael Bisping explained on this week’s UFC Fight Week episode.
“Edson Barboza, we know he’s been around a long time and that may be to his detriment because of a lot of wear and tear on the body. But if you look at [Mitchell’s record], he does not have the resume of a Barboza. When you compare the names he has faced to Barboza… you can’t really compare the two.”
Will Mitchell step up in the biggest test of his career yet? Or will the old veteran shut the door on another rising prospect as he looks to piece together some featherweight form of his own?
Call Big Mouth
The recipient of BT Sport’s 2020 Male Fighter of the Year award, Kevin Holland had been set for a breakout 2021 following five straight victories during an eye-catching 12 months prior.
However, fate has had other ideas for the man who christened himself ‘Big Mouth’ on his winning run.
Renowned for giving his opponent verbals even in the heat of battle, Holland looked set to become a serious contender and a fan favourite at middleweight but two defeats and a bizarre no-contest put the brakes on his coming out party in a big way last year.
Having been comfortably outwrestled by Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori during those defeats, Holland has reportedly been working hard to improve the glaring weakness exposed in his ground game.
We may have even learned a little about his development before an accidental head clash against Chris Daukaus ended his last appearance in October.
This weekend he’ll be hoping he can show the next evolution of his fighting career as he returns to the Octagon to take on Alex Oliveira.
UFC veteran Oliveira, 34, looks like something of a dream opponent for Holland to do exactly that too, having lost six of his last eight fights - including three submissions.
Will we see the emergence of Big Mouth 2.0?
Watch UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal on BT Sport 1HD from 1am on Saturday night or catch up spoiler-free on the BT Sport app or BTSport.com on Sunday morning!