UFC 268’s Kamaru Usman on Covington: “Ali Needed a Frazier”

New York, NY — Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman had a lot of success early in his UFC 268 rematch with Colby Covington.

That success included two knockdowns, and following the fight, Usman (20-1) told media outlets that he had to restrain himself to keep from getting over-aggressive.

“It’s very, very hard not to get crazy when you hurt someone like that,” Usman said following his latest title defence. “But I know he did his homework, he went to a good team, those guys at MMA Masters are good coaches, and I think they prepared him well. So he stayed very poised and very controlled, that’s why he didn’t try to get crazy, because I would have found the shot.”

“As a competitor I respect him,” Usman added. “That’s the next best guy in the division.”

Those words may come as a surprise, but perhaps they shouldn’t. At the end of UFC 268’s twenty-five minute main event, which saw Usman claim a unanimous decision win to beat Covington for the second time, the pair appeared to bury the hatchet. Usman remained mum on what was said between the two at the end of the fight, but later acknowledged the importance of “Chaos” to his own career — drawing a comparison to the great boxing rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

“Ali needed a Frazier. All these guys, you can be the great one, but there’s always going to be that one guy that’s going to be able to push you,” Usman stated. “And he is that guy. As much of him outside the octagon that most people don’t like, myself included, you have to respect him as a competitor.”

Asked whether he might see Covington again down the line, Usman left the door open. “I don’t know, man. That guy’s tough. I think he’ll tune up a lot of guys in the division. We’ll see, it’s up to him. If he’s willing to do the work to get back up here, and if I’m still here, we’ll make it happen.”

Watch the full UFC 268 post-fight press conference with Kamaru Usman above. More coverage of the event can be found below.