Tyron Woodley will be defending his welterweight title against Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 on March 2 in Las Vegas.
Per Ariel Helwani of ESPN, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will face top contender Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in Las Vegas on March 2. The booking comes after weeks of speculation about whether the next challenger for the belt would be Usman or former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington.
In the end, while Colby Covington was ready to go for 235, UFC chose to go with Usman because his stock rose mightily in their eyes after the RDA win + his subsequent willingness to fight anyone on short notice in January despite being injured. Covington held out and it cost him.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 6, 2019
Many figured that Covington from a marketing stand-point made the most sense for a fight with Woodley in 2019. The plan had been for the two to fight back in September but a nose procedure kept Covington from accepting the bout and Woodley instead defended his title against Darren Till. However, the polarizing Covington remained at the front of the title picture with his attention-grabbing comments and his surge in recognition following being sent to the White House to meet President Donald Trump. Covington is currently on a six fight win-streak including wins over former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos last June and former title challenger Demian Maia in 2017.
Per Helwani, despite both Usman and Covington being ready for March 2, the UFC chose to go with Usman off the strength of his performance against dos Anjos in November and the fact that he offered to fight on short notice to help save UFC 233 in Anaheim when the TJ Dillashaw vs Henry Cejudo bout was moved.
Usman is on a nine fight win-streak which is currently the longest in the welterweight division including the champion. Entering the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter in 2015, Usman has quietly put together one of the most impressive runs in the division with wins over the aforementioned Dos Anjos, Maia, and Leon Edwards on his resume.
What am I lying about? Do I not have a signed contract with your name on it? Just face the reality March 2nd you’re standing across the octagon from Me. Now get your shit together and let’s run it @TWooodley https://t.co/mvgRM3MTEz
— KAMARU USMAN (@USMAN84kg) January 3, 2019
Adding another element to the bout is that Usman took to social media earlier in the week to announce that he had accepted the fight but Woodley seemingly scoffed at the notion and implied that it would be Covington whom he faced next.
Woodley is currently riding a streak of six victories and one draw since 2014 and winning the welterweight title in that span. He has victories over Robbie Lawler, Stephen Thompson, Maia, and Darren Till in the last several years and is heavily favored in bouts with Usman and Covington.
It was announced on Saturday that a fight between light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and top contender Anthony Smith was also in the works for March 2 and that it would be the main event if it goes through. That would make the fight between Woodley and Usman the co-main event for the evening.