UFC 268 combat card — Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington: 5 greatest storylines to comply with in New York

As 2021 winds down, the UFC returns to New York Metropolis for a loaded UFC 268 card. The motion, headlined by a pair of championship bouts, takes place Nov. 6 contained in the legendary Madison Sq. Backyard.

In the primary occasion, Kamaru Usman will defend the welterweight championship in a rematch with Colby Covington. The 2 bitter rivals first fought in December 2019 with Usman scoring a knockout within the fifth spherical. The co-main occasion options one other championship rematch when Rose Namajunas defends the ladies’s strawweight title in opposition to Weili Zhang. Namajunas stopped Zhang with a head kick knockout in April, changing into a two-time champ within the division.

Contemplating the depth of the UFC 268 occasion, there aren’t any scarcity of storylines to sift by. Let’s take a better have a look at the 5 greatest.

1. Usman appears to proceed run at welterweight G.O.A.T. standing

Not way back, the concept of any man difficult for Georges St-Pierre’s standing as the best welterweight of all time appeared ridiculous. Even because the UFC tried to push the concept Tyron Woodley was in GSP’s league, followers weren’t shopping for it. Then Kamaru Usman got here alongside and began constructing a resume to rival that of the Canadian nice. It is not simply the 18 consecutive wins, 14 of which got here within the UFC, it is the fixed evolution of his recreation. Usman has gone from a wrestler to a fighter whose wrestling allowed him to have efficient hanging to an more and more technical striker. Now, he is a fighter with dominant grappling, stable hanging fundamentals and one-punch knockout energy. Because the title defenses pile up and are more and more spectacular, Usman could make an actual run to dethrone GSP because the welterweight G.O.A.T.

2. Covington is combating to stay related

Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, Covington discovered a personality that made him right into a love him or detest him star. Along with his ever-present “Make America Nice Once more” hat, post-fight interview calls from Trump and a controversial, typically offensive, trash-talk recreation, Covington turned an enormous title within the sport. Then, he obtained his jaw damaged in his grudge match with Usman. Covington has solely fought as soon as since that loss, beating a badly pale model of Tyron Woodley. Between the loss, the inactivity and Trump’s loss within the 2020 election, Covington has felt much less and fewer related. Struggling one other loss to Usman — particularly a stoppage — could be a large blow to any likelihood of him ever regaining the momentum he had coming into the 2019 conflict with the champ. It is exhausting to hold on a personality like Covington portrays when you find yourself repeatedly flattened by your greatest rival.

3. Is that this the most important combat of Rose Namajunas’ profession?

Legacy is a recurring theme on the prime finish of UFC 268 and that is undoubtedly true within the case of Namajunas. Together with her UFC 261 win, Namajunas turned the primary lady in UFC historical past to regain a championship after shedding the belt. The tip of her first title reign was considerably disappointing, struggling a slam knockout in opposition to Jessica Andrade and practically retiring on account of the loss and mental-health points surrounding the stress of being champion. She battled her approach again to the highest, nevertheless, and scored an upset knockout of Zhang, much like how she received the title the primary time with a knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. As together with her first title reign, Namajunas’ first protection is available in a rematch of the dethroned champion. Namajunas’ legacy as a two-time champion is safe, however placing collectively a prolonged title reign may make her legendary titleholder. In that respect, proving her 78-second knockout of Zhang wasn’t a fluke by successful the rematch makes this arguably the most important combat of Namajunas’ already spectacular profession.

4. The dream light-weight slugfest is going on

When Michael Chandler signed with the UFC, fan imaginations started racing. One of the crucial frequent “dream fights” involving Chandler was a showdown with fellow knockout artist Justin Gaethje. Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker and located himself in a combat for the vacant light-weight championship in opposition to Charles Oliveira, a combat that noticed Chandler practically rating a first-round end to change into champion earlier than a comeback knockout by Oliveira. Gaethje hasn’t fought for barely greater than a 12 months since getting into a combat with then-lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as interim champ. Each Chandler and Gaethje now sit on the very fringe of title rivalry, needing one huge win to search out themselves proper again within the combine. The stakes are excessive and the types are good for an exciting bout between wrestlers who’ve transitioned to knockout artists. It does not get a lot better than this.

5. Fighters in must-win spots pepper the undercard

Former light-weight champion and multi-time featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar is 1-3 in his 4 most up-to-date fights. Former light-weight title challenger Al Iaquinta is 1-3 in his 4 most up-to-date fights. Former blue-chip prospect Edmen Shahbazyan has misplaced his two most up-to-date outings. These three males all are dealing with practically must-win conditions on the undercard. Edgar has reached the best highs of the game and is winding his profession down, whether or not he’d wish to admit it or not. However a fighter like Shahbazyan wants to indicate the flexibility to develop from losses or be relegated to “do not forget that man?” posts on the Web. His lack of cardio and grappling has been exploited twice in a row and a loss to Nassourdine Imavov could be very exhausting to bounce again from.

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