- Tarrian Rodgers
Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas remain champions after stellar UFC 268 card
It’s not everyday three teammates fight on the same card. On Saturday night’s stacked UFC 268 card live from Madison Square Garden the mecca of entertainment Team Trevor Witman was lights-out. All three fighters: welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, strawweight champ Rose Namajunas and former interim lightweight titleholder, Justin Gaethje were victorious.
In the main event Usman took on rival Colby Covington after all the years of personal jabs and name calling this fight looked much more different than the first time they locked horns. Last fight saw 300 significant strikes landed resulting in Usman winning with a 5th round TKO. This fight was a more disciplined fight for both fighters. Both men seemed to fight at a distance and closed when the shots were available.
Covington who is an elite wrestler attempted a barrage of takedowns and was deemed unsuccessful in most of those attempts. Usman actually won the wrestling exchanges with Covington. The biggest moment of the fight came in the second round when Usman dropped Covington twice with right hands near the end of the round. Covington was able to recover from those big rights to storm a mini comeback of his own going to Usman’s body with leg kicks that hurt Usman a great deal.
Usman was able to maintain his championship aura and finish the fight with his jab. Usman had done enough after five rounds to earn the nod on the judges' scorecards, winning by scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46. After the fight both fighters hugged and gave each other respect which had never existed between the two before.
"I just gotta give it up," Usman said after the fight. "I know there was a lot of trash talk and bad blood and there's still going to be some after tonight. But he's a tough son of a b---. ... I mean, when you share an octagon with someone this tough, you can't help it. That respect is going to come. He hit me with some shots and I could tell they've been working on it. The power came up a little bit and I could tell they had been working on it. I had to give him that respect."
Also representing Team Whitman was women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas who took home a split decision over Weili Zhang in their rematch from April to retain the title. Namajunas is now not only the first two-time women's champion in promotional history, but also the first to successfully defend the title at least once in both reigns. This fight was also different from the first fight. “Thug Rose” had to go more into her wrestling bag. She secured key takedowns in the fourth and fifth rounds and racked up nearly double the amount of control time of Zhang. Zhang’s best work came in the earlier rounds as she was able to land leg kicks and a combination of strikes. Two judges scored it for Namajunas via scores of 49-46 and 48-47. A third scored it 48-47 for Zhang.
UFC 268 started off with a bang as another Team Whitman member Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler delivered one for the ages with an epic brawl. Gaethje earned the decision after bloodying and dropping Chandler multiple times in the fight, but he also took his fair share of damage throughout the contest. Gaethje is likely to get the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier next for the lightweight title.