What next for Kamaru Usman after win over Jorge Masvidal?

Kamaru Usman’s ‘lap’ of the welterweight division will likely see him take on Colby Covington next… the 170-pound king broke the loudmouth’s JAW when they last met but could Leon Edwards or Conor McGregor beat the American to a title shot?

  • Kamaru Usman got his ‘lap’ of the welterweight division off to a strong start 
  • The Nigerian Nightmare sensationally knocked out Jorge Masvidal at UFC 161
  • However, Colby Covington was not impressed with the champion’s performance
  • Covington has campaigned for a rematch with his rival since December 2019
  • Dana White backs a rematch but Leon Edwards and McGregor could get the fight

Kamaru Usman vowed to ‘lap’ his competition prior to UFC 261 and the welterweight king has come firing out of the blocks to lay down a marker to the rest of his division. 

Jorge Masvidal had not been knocked out in 13 years before Usman sent Gamebred to sleep in front of 15,000 fans in Jacksonville, Florida. Not bad for a fighter so often written off as ‘just a wrestler’. 

But as the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena was sent into raptures by Usman’s knockout victory, there was one man among the crowd who was unimpressed with The Nigerian Nightmare’s performance. 

Kamaru Usman got his ‘lap’ of the welterweight division off to the best possible start at UFC 161

The 170-pound king knocked out Jorge Masvidal to make it 14 successive victories in the UFC

Staring straight down the camera lens, Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington screamed ‘You’re dead’ before gesturing his hand across his throat as Usman rejoiced in defeating the American’s former team-mate. 

‘It took eight minutes longer than I would finish Jorge Masvidal in every time we trained,’ Covington said on the ESPN post-fight show via MMA Junkie. 

‘That guy [Masvidal] is a journeyman. What’s he got: 15, 20 losses on his record? You shouldn’t be happy or praising yourself for beating a journeyman like that. 

‘There’s a reason he [Masivdal] is a backstabber. He’s a street Judas. He’s a bum. If I lost the next 12 fights in a row, I’d still have a better record than journeyman Masvidal.’ 

For the No 1 contender, there is only one fight he is interested in: Usman.

Having defeated Tyron Woodley last September, the 33-year-old has opted not to stay busy while Usman and Masvidal have prepared to face each other, instead biding his time on the sidelines waiting for the champion.

That decision has understandably frustrated other welterweight contenders, with Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson calling Chaos out. He has opted to protect his No 1 status, though.

However, as Usman lapped up the acclaim of 15,000 fans, one onlooker was not impressed

Colby Covington was heard screaming ‘you’re dead’ at the camera after Usman’s win

Covington is convinced he is the man to finally dethrone Usman and get his hands on UFC gold. 

In fairness, the 33-year-old has run the champion closest since he won the belt two years ago. The rivals met in a gruelling barnstormer that took fans by surprise, given that Usman and Covington are wrestlers by trade.

After months of trash talk in which he branded the champion ‘Fake Newsman’ while wearing a Make America Great Again cap, Covington had his jaw broken by Usman who won via fifth-round knockout. 

It was an episode that was generally viewed as poetic justice for the loudmouth American but despite his humbling defeat, Covington has continued to dismiss the credentials of Usman, who he labels ‘Marty’ – a nickname Usman used to go by as a teenager that rivals now use to taunt him.

The loudmouth American has patiently waited for his turn to get revenge on the champion

The welterweight rivals met in December 2019 in a barnstormer of a title fight in Las Vegas

Usman broke Covington’s jaw as he secured a stunning fifth-round TKO of the challenger

‘It’s a different style matchup when I fight ‘Marty’ [Usman],” Covington said. ‘He knows he can’t take me down. I’m going to take him down into deep waters. I’m going to take him down and I’m going to finish him. 

‘There are no more fake nut shots next time. … I have new coaches now. I have a new team behind me. Before, there was so much drama at my old gym. People were screaming at me. I couldn’t get my training time in. 

‘Now, I have Daniel Valverde (and) Cesar Carneiro over at MMA Masters. We’re getting better every single day. My striking is on a whole other level. 

‘What has to go different is I have to put a higher pace on him next time. I didn’t put enough pace on him last time and just keep my hands up. I know I’m going to get my hand raised when I fight him.’

Despite the humbling, Covington is adamant a second fight will result in a different outcome

 Covington says he will take Usman into deep waters and dismissed the win over Masvidal

With Usman intent on lapping his competition and Covington the No 1 contender, a rematch between the pair would seem the obvious choice for UFC’s matchmakers, and president Dana White admitted that ‘it is the fight to make’.

‘It’s the fight to make,’ White said after UFC 261 via MMA Junkie. ‘He’s the No. 1 (contender) in the world. Usman’s thing was, he didn’t want him to be the backup. He’s like, ‘I want Masvidal, then I want a camp, then I’ll take (Covington) again. I’m going to start lapping these guys.” 

Although the Usman fight is the one Covington desperately wants, negotiations are not always that simple. 

After all, talks broke down between Chaos and the UFC when they attempted to schedule Usman v Covington for UFC 244, with the 33-year-old unhappy with the financial offer on the table from the organisation. 

UFC president Dana White says that Usman v Covington 2 ‘is the fight to make’ after UFC 161

However, it is not guaranteed that terms will be agreed between Covington and the UFC

‘What happened exactly was the UFC came to me and offered me a basic challenger’s rate,’ Covington explained at the time to MMA Fighting.   

‘I said no, I’m not challenging. I’m [interim] champion. I’ve never lost, I just defended my title. I brought in the Trumps. I got a tweet from [Donald] Trump, that’s like $3.5 million in marketing. If you break down the analytics of it, in itself, just to promote their show.’ 

Without an interim belt, Covington may not have as strong a bargaining position. And if negotiations enter tricky water, don’t rule out the UFC exploring different options – just ask Jon Jones, with reports emerging that the UFC are discussing a possible Francis Ngannou v Derrick Lewis bout with Jones failing to reach an agreement over a mega-fight at the moment.  

For Leon Edwards and Conor McGregor, that could spell an opportunity to usurp Covington into a title shot. 

That could open the door for either Conor McGregor (L) or Leon Edwards (R) to face Usman

Edwards is deserving of a title shot having enjoyed a nine-fight winning run at welterweight

The Briton faces Nate Diaz next month and a win would surely seal a title fight for Edwards

Birmingham-based fighter Edwards has often been overlooked by fans and UFC chiefs alike, with his refusal to be drawn into the trash talk that Covington levels at his rivals preventing him from being a household name.

The 29-year-old would rather let his fighting do the talking, and having enjoyed a run of nine-straight wins, Edwards can surely no longer be denied a rematch with Usman – who he lost to in 2015.

Rocky knows that a win over fan-favourite Nate Diaz on May 15 will propel him among the UFC’s biggest names and set up a shot at the welterweight belt. Diaz, 36, has not fought since November 2019 and is a huge underdog to clinch an unlikely win over the No 3 contender. 

Elsewhere, Usman could defend his belt in a mega-money fight with Conor McGregor, with the duo exchanging insults on social media in recent weeks.

McGregor has engaged in a bitter war of words with the welterweight champion recently

The Irishman has accused The Nigerian Nightmare of copying his one-liners and shots

The Irishman, 32, has taken umbrage with Usman ‘copying’ his one-liners and his fighting style, while also insinuating that the welterweight champion has taken banned substances.

McGregor has made his desire to win a third world title known for some time, and although he has lost two of his last three fights, the UFC may be tempted to put the bitter rivals in the octagon together.   

Yet for the fans, the consensus is very much in agreement with White – Usman v Covington 2 has to be made next. 

The Nigerian Nightmare coasted past Masvidal with ease to begin his second lap of the division, but Covington will be hoping to stop Usman in his tracks as he circles back around to the American.  

A fight with Covington is the obvious choice as Usman continues his ‘lap’ at 170 pounds

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