The Ultimate Fighting Championship is coming off the heels of yet another successful card. Saturday’s free slate boasted two belt fights, the crowning of a brand-new light heavyweight champion and the re-crowning of former bantamweight royalty.
Glover Teixeira (33-7), at 42 years old, accomplished an epic feat in the twilight of his career with a freaky-fast submission victory over Jan Blachowicz (28-9). Meanwhile, Petr Yan (16-2) claimed the interim bantamweight title over Cory Sandhagen (14-4) via unanimous decision.
Although Halloween has passed, the UFC continues to treat fight fans. UFC 268 is this weekend on Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden, and this card too boasts two awesome title fight rematches. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (19-1) will re-welcome Colby Covington (16-2) in the main event, while strawweight champ Rose Namajunas (10-4) runs it back with Weili Zhang (21-2) in the co-main. Also on this card is a dream lightweight matchup between Michael Chandler (22-6) and Justin Gaethje (22-3).
Usman vs. Covington 2
This rematch should have been constructed well before Jorge Masvidal (35-15) got either of his shots against Usman. Alas, I am happy it’s here now. In my eyes, Covington is the only fighter to have given any sort of issues to the reigning 170-pound champion. In their first matchup, Kamaru and Colby went four full rounds before Usman punched Covington to an albeit-questionable referee stoppage.
Usman’s second career fight is the only stain on his flawless and dominant resume. He is the UFC pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter — aka the best on the roster — and has shown that he is only improving. He knocked out Gilbert Burns (20-4) with a jab, and brutally dropped the aforementioned Masvidal in April.
Covington is, in my eyes, the greatest threat to Usman. Colby has high-profile wins over former welterweight champs Tyron Woodley (19-7) and Robbie Lawler (29-15), and he genuinely appeared to be evenly matched with Usman until he reached the TKO victory. As we saw last time, Colby’s wrestling is on par with Usman’s, and his powerful striking did more than enough to bust up the “Nigerian Nightmare”’s face.
All that being said, Colby hasn’t beaten a fighter younger than 34 years old since he got a decision victory over Bryan Barberena (15-8) in 2016. Also, since Covington lost to Usman, he has fought only once. He scooped up a TKO victory over a washed Woodley en route to “The Chosen One’s” removal from the UFC roster. On the other hand, Usman has fought Masvidal twice and Burns once, earning one dominant unanimous decision and two sensational knockouts — Marty has proven he has only gotten better.
Charlie’s Prediction: And Still: Usman via R2 KO/TKO
Peter’s Prediction: And Still: Usman via R4 KO/TKO
Namajunas vs. Zhang 2
In April, Namajunas challenged then-strawweight champion Zhang for the title. Namajunas was a moderate underdog entering the fight and caught Zhang with an extremely well-placed head kick to knock down the champ and subsequently finish her en route to a TKO.
I analyzed this fight the first time around in April, and this is largely the same fight picture. Both strawweights have an insane intensity and pace, and should both be very unafraid to throw down for UFC Gold. Unlike last time, I am backing Zhang to win this one.
Zhang got dropped by one kick in the first round. That loss has to feel extremely embarrassing, especially with Zhang having battled five insane rounds in her previous title defense with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Weili is going to come into MSG more hungry than ever, and I am happy to back her to get the job done.
Charlie’s Prediction: And New: Zhang via decision
Peter’s Prediction: And New: Zhang via decision
This card also features Chandler vs. Gaethje and Edgar vs. Vera. This should be a firecracker of a fight card, so be sure to follow along with The Red Corner on Twitter @TheRedCornerDFP.