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Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman retains UFC title, earns high praise

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UFC welterweight division’s champion Kamaru Usman has entered all-time territory after successfully defending his title for the fifth time.

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The Nigerian fighter (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) found himself in another exciting back-and-forth affair against Colby Covington (16-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC), but after 25 minutes, the champion would earn winning scores from all three judges to retain his title on Sunday morning.

The welterweight title bout was the UFC 268 main event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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With no love lost in this intense rivalry, naturally, there was no glove touch before the action began.

After a few initial strikes from both, the first significant moment of the bout was a takedown attempt from Covington that was reversed by Usman. On the mat, Usman landed a few punches and controlled the challenger for a moment before they returned to the feet, where the champion would control the center of the cage.

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Covington darted in for a combination but Usman ducked under and completed another takedown, bringing the action to the canvas again for a brief period. Once back on the feet, striking exchanges continued until the round ended.

Usman maintained the center of the cage early in the second as they traded strikes. Covington would over-commit with another combination leading to a brief clinch before they continued to trade strikes.

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In the final minute of the second, Usman would land a crushing left hook to drop Covington. The challenger popped right back up, but another left hand found the mark to send Covington back to the canvas again. Usman would close the round on top landing heavy punches to the body.

Covington recovered well to start the third and landed a nice combination of his own, although he was more cautious with his movement. Usman remained calm and allowed the fight to come to him, but the action would increase in the closing minute with a few heated exchanges. The round would come to a close after Covington changed levels and completed a takedown on the champ.

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The challenger continued to prove a tough opponent as he landed a few clean strikes early in the fourth round. Covington kept the pressure high throughout the round and landed a hard uppercut that appeared to wobble Usman before the end of the frame.

Covington received chants from the crowd as the last round began. Hard striking exchanges continued, with both fighters landing cleanly, making for an exciting round. An accidental eye poke from Usman occurred in the closing moments, causing a brief pause in the action before the fight would conclude.

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Notably, both men shared a moment of respect, embracing and sharing words of encouragement before returning to their corners. After another incredible fight between these two fantastic competitors, the judges scored the contest in favor of Usman with scores of 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46.

After the fight, UFC chief Dana White described Usman as potentially the greatest fighter in his division.

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“This guy is the best ever. He’s the best welterweight of all time. He is on his way to possible GOAT (greatest of all time) status,” White told reporters.

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