UFC 245: 'This one was for the world' - Kamaru Usman breaks Colby Covington's jaw in Vegas grudge match
Champion triumphs after bitter trash-talk from challenger
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman produced a stunning last-gasp stoppage to finish rival Colby Covington and retain his UFC welterweight title on a wild night in Las Vegas as he served up a classic piece of sporting irony.
The world title clash between Nigerian-born Usman and American Covington was played out in front of a backdrop of rhetoric and distasteful trash talk from the challenger, who stated that Usman's deceased former manager Glenn Robinson would be "watching from hell" when the pair met at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
But Usman stayed calm and composed, and proved the stronger, better man as, after their hugely entertaining back-and-forth battle headed into the final minute of the fifth and final round, he twice dropped Covington with huge right hands before finishing him with ground strikes with just 50 seconds left on the clock.
And the rivalry was closed with the exclamation mark of Covington suffering what doctors called: "a non-displaced midline mandible fracture," which may result in the trash-talking welterweight having his jaw wired shut.
After the fight, Usman dedicated his victory to the people who had been insulted and verbally abused by Covington in the past, including the Brazilian fight fans, who Covington branded "filthy animals" following a prior win over Brazil's Demian Maia, and his former manager Robinson.
"It's good to move past all of that," Usman told reporters, including The National, during the post-fight press conference.
"I'm gonna be honest, this is what kept me sane all six, seven months ... this moment right here, after the fight. That's what I looked forward to. This is the addictive moment, this is what keeps me doing this.
"There was a lot emotionally. A lot that he said. And I meant it, this one was for the world. This one's for the people of Brazil, this one's for my former manager, this one's for my family.
"When you push hate, and you push separation, love and unity does win sometimes. And tonight it won."
In the night's co-main event, Australia's Alexander "The Great" Volkanovski produced a brilliant all-round display to outstrike and outpace Max Holloway over the full five-round world title distance to capture the UFC featherweight championship.
Volkanovski hammered Holloway with a succession of powerful leg kicks throughout the contest, and outlanded the Hawaiian world champion in all five rounds to earn the unanimous decision from the octagonside judges, with scores of 48-47, 48-47, 50-45.
"My shins are a little sore, but the gameplan went well," he smiled during the post-fight press conference.
"We're both very high level – it was a chess match in there - and I got the job done."
The third title fight of the night saw Dutch kickboxing ace Germaine de Randamie go all five rounds with two-division UFC world champion Amanda Nunes, but "The Iron Lady" was unable to take the UFC women's bantamweight title from the Brazilian.
Nunes turned to her wrestling and jiu-jitsu in a bid to nullify de Randamie's world-class striking, and it proved successful as she dominated the contest on the ground in a gruelling five-round affair.
De Randamie had some success of her own in the stand-up, and drew gasps from the Las Vegas crowd when she connected with a big knee to the champion's chin, then a spectacular head kick, which briefly stunned "The Lioness".
Ultimately, however, it was Nunes's all-round mixed martial arts skillset that proved decisive as she ran out the unanimous decision victor as she retained her title with scores of 49-44, 49-46, 49-45.
And while women's boxing champion Claressa Shields was in attendance and keen to face Nunes in the boxing ring, the Brazilian MMA star said that if Shields wanted to face her, she would have to do it inside the UFC octagon.
"If she wants to fight me, come into my world," she said backstage after her victory.
"I respect her as a boxer, but I'm an MMA fighter. I like what I did today. If she thinks she can handle that for five rounds, come see me."
Updated: December 15, 2019 06:02 PM