We have an incredibly exciting night of fights coming to us this weekend, March 5, 2022, as UFC 272 goes down live from the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
As most of you know, headlining the event is a non-title fight between top ranked welterweight contenders Colby Covington (No. 1) and Jorge Masvidal (No. 6).
These two met at American Top Team, before Covington even started fighting. ATT was looking to improve their wrestling program, so Covington sent in his NJCAA & NCAA resumes for a team tryout.
Dan Lambert, owner of ATT, allowed him to join the team, giving ‘Chaos’ a chance to hit it off with ‘Gamebred’. This was around the time Masvidal fought Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce title, toward the end of 2011.
Following that fight, Masvidal fought once more for Strikeforce, before moving over to the UFC, while Covington made his professional debut not long after.
Fast forward to where Covington makes his UFC debut with a record of 5-0, move that to 8-0, as he quickly won his first three bouts in the promotion, and Masvidal was moving up to 170 lbs.
Being longtime teammates at the time, their goal was to ‘take on the world together’, and they sure have.
They are each a huge reason for the others success.
Covington offered elite-level wrestling to a great striker in Masvidal, and Masvidal offered elite-level striking to a beginner mixed martial artist in Covington.
Only they’ve separated since, they aren’t good friends anymore, the friendship quickly turned into hatred not long after Covington won the interim championship against former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
Covington, being the entertainer he is, had some colorful choices of words regarding Masvidal whilst speaking to the media, calling him a journeyman, saying that he sucks and what not, and the Cuban did not take lightly to it.
All of a sudden, the two men hate each other. To be fair, pretty much the entirety of ATT hated Covington at that point, and both fighters were kicked out of the gym for the disturbance it caused.
A very long story short, Masvidal was eventually accepted back, while Covington had found a new home at MMA Masters.
Click here to see Dan Lambert’s interview regarding these two, he knows them both better than anyone.
Now let’s get into this match up!
Covington is widely considered the No. 2 welterweight in the entire world, and for a good reason.
Both of his fights against pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman were incredibly close, and no one’s been able to really given the champion a run like himself.
Aside from his two defeats to Usman, he’s lost a single time in his career, against Warlley Alves (guillotine choke), a bout he was injured in.
Since then, he’s gone 8-2, only losing to the champion.
Masvidal has also lost twice to the champion, himself in back-to-back outings.
Once moving up to the welterweight division, ‘Gamebred’ initially went 1-2, securing a vicious KO victory over a former middleweight TUF winner, before losing back-to-back outings to former WEC & UFC champion Ben Henderson (SD), as well as Lorenz Larkin (SD).
Fast forward to 14 months later and Masvidal picks up a win over Ross Pearson upon return, before finishing Jake Ellenberger and Donald Cerrone via knockout in his next two. Next came another set of back-to-back defeats, where he was defeated by Demian Maia (SD) and Stephen Thompson (UD).
As you see, there are a number of split decision defeats in there, many of which most believe he won. Hell, he left the lightweight division after losing a split decision to Al Iaquinta literally everyone except two judges knew he won.
Nonetheless, Masvidal would catch his stride in 2019, returning after a year-and-a-half away to KO top ranked Darren Till, who was fresh off his title shot against then champion Tyron Woodley.
This was followed up by a five-second KO over 9-time world champion (Bellator & ONE) Ben Askren, before finishing Nate Diaz off at the end of the third round via TKO, showing him go 3-0 throughout the year.
This granted him a title shot, and eventually an immediate rematch, with Kamaru Usman, both of which he lost convincingly.
Neither have fought since their rematch defeats to Usman. If fact, ‘Gamebred’ hasn’t won a fight since 2019, and Covington has won just one fight since 2019.
And just because Covington gave Usman harder fights, doesn’t mean he’s the better fighter.
Styles make fights.
Another thing to consider coming into this bout, Masvidal is turning 38 years old later this year, while Covington just turned 34.
With this having turned into a heated rivalry, we’ve heard both of their sides a number of times now, but what’s been most interesting about their interviews leading up to this fight is their individual sides on the times they had sparring one another.
Covington said he’d maul Masvidal and wear him down so bad, he’d quit and walk off the mat; while Masvidal stated the wrestling exchanges got much closer as time went on, along with the fact he made Covington quit a number of times via strikes in practice.
That makes things very interesting.
That being said, it appears Covington definitely wanted this fight signed more than Masvidal, due to the contract negotiations and how long it took to finally book these two.
This is one of those fights to where, if they were to fight ten times, we’d get mixed results.
Covington would definitely win some, and Masvidal would definitely win some.
With Covington’s unparalleled pace and wrestling ability, he’s surely capable of winning this fight handily. Masvidal, though his takedown defense is at an elite level, has allowed opponents to just spam him with takedown attempts.
It happened when he fought Pat Healy, though he won that fight, Ben Henderson, Demian Maia, and Kamaru Usman in their first fight; though he was able to defend 60-70% of all those takedowns, they were all able to keep him along the fence for a considerable amount of time in their fights.
If they can do that, ‘Chaos’ certainly can.
On the contrary, Masvidal has good takedown defense, as mentioned above, and he’s equally as good at getting back up once taken down. If he can keep getting back to his feet and use his striking, this will be a very, very dangerous fight for Covington.
There are always those moments during a scramble where both men aren’t defending themselves for a split second.
Of Covington’s 16 wins, eight come via finish (4 knockout, 4 submission), which is of course a 50% finish rate.
Masvidal on the other hand, of his 35 wins, 18 come via finish (16 knockout, 2 submission), which is a 51.4% finish rate.
That’s pretty similar aye? Something else that’s quite similar is their frames, with ‘Chaos’ standing 5’11”, boasting a reach of 72”, while ‘Gamebred’ also stands 5’11”, but with a reach of 74”.
That could be very dangerous for our No. 1 ranked contender. And in the same breath, this could be the end of Masvidal as a serious contender should he lose.
How do you see this fight playing out at UFC 272?
If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to share it on social media!
Order and watch UFC 272 by clicking the image below:
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you’d like to see those pieces, be sure to check out learnaboutnature.com!