Everything you need to know about UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal

Publish Date
Friday, 4 March 2022, 7:20AM
UFC

UFC

ACC UFC contributor Felix Heath-Collins with everything you need to know ahead of UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal.

UFC 272 took a bit of a beating lineup wise, but the hugely-hyped grudge match main event between former friends Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal should make this one worth the PPV (Pay-Per-View) admission fee alone.

This weekend's main event is one of those prototypical MMA matchups: the wrestler versus the striker. Colby "Chaos" Covington is a supremely dominant wrestler and Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal is a devastating kickboxer. At one point they were best friends and sparring partners at ATT (American Top Team) until Covington's media trash-talking of fellow ATT fighters and Masvidal himself resulted in multiple heated exchanges and, eventually, Covington's expulsion from the gym. But, after all that, most fighters and fans seem to be picking Covington to win. Let's find out why.

Colby "Chaos" Covington (16-3) (wins-losses) is an Oregon State University Division I All-American wrestler and two-time Pac-10 champion, I'm assured. In the UFC he struggled on his grappling-heavy style. He was winning, just not in style. He then self-admittedly adopted a ranting alt-right MAGA persona, resurrecting his career as the guy people watch to lose, however rare his losing might be. Plus he's Donald Trump's favourite fighter and he visited the White House. His UFC wins include unanimous decisions against Bryan "Bam Bam" Barberena, Dong Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim, Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, and "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler. His only losses came against Warlley Alves via first-round Guillotine Choke, and the reigning welterweight Kamaru "Nigerian Nightmare" Usman who broke Covington's chin and TKO'd him in the fifth round in 2019 and then won again via unanimous decision in a closer 2021 outing. The point is Covington doesn't have a massive number of fights, but when he does fight, he tends to win.

Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal (35-15) is in many ways a polar opposite of Covington. Instead of a world-class wrestler, he's a lethal street striker. Not only is Masvidal about to record his 51st professional MMA fight, but he was also a disciple of street fighting legend Kimbo Slice. In reality, Masvidal's real tally of total "fights" would be near-impossible to count, but I would estimate in the hundreds. Not only is he a UFC veteran dating back to 2013, but his recently reinvented "Street Jesus"-style where he "baptises" people has led to the fastest knockout in UFC history against "Funky" Ben Askren in 2019 at 5 seconds via flying knee, plus a KO win against Darren "The Gorilla" Till in his hometown, and a TKO from a cut against Nate Diaz for the BMF (Baddest Mother F*cker) gimmick-belt. Much like Covington, Masvidal has two losses to Kamaru Usman: the first via a boring unanimous decision and the second via a shock right cross KO of Masvidal by the wrestler Kamaru Usman. Of course, the wrestling threat led to the knockout punch opening for Usman, but Masvidal's chin is at this point battle-tested, if not battle-worn.

Who wins this one? That's the difficult question. Understandably most are choosing Covington, the overwhelming wrestling and cardio machine. Reality says Covington will impose his usual "Chaos" on Masvidal and blitz to a hard-fought decision win. Make-believe says Masvidal will put his hands behind his back and concoct a silly plan to insta-kill Covington just like he did to Askren in five seconds flat. So I'm obviously going with Masvidal because make-believe is better than reality. Or something.

There are a couple of other fights that stand out further down the cards First up is the featured fight on the main card between Muay Thai kickboxing master Edson "Junior" Barboza (22-10) and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) master Bryce "Thug Nasty" Mitchell (14-0). Another prototypical battle plays out, this time between striking and BJJ, in the tradition of Royce Gracie who won three of the earliest UFC one-night tournaments solely with his BJJ mastery, inspiring a generation of BJJ fighters and Brazilians alike. After all that I'm rooting for Barboza. I can't help it. I love me some striking, and I love me some Barboza (Hector Barbossa too). Barboza's Brazillian, too.

The final fight I wanted to highlight is way down as the headliner of the early prelim card. It's a fascinating fight between fan favourite bulldog Bryan "Boom" Kelleher (24-12) and the cousin of lightweight great Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, Umar (13-0). Brian "Boom" Kelleher is just fun to watch. He's got UFC wins by Guillotine choke, Punches, Left Hook & Hammerfist, and more Guillotine choke. Seven of Kelleher's pro MMA wins are via guillotine choke. Umar Nurmagomedov, on the other hand, is a unique Nurmagomedov. While the world-famous Khabib favoured his Dagestani wrestling roots and accented it with formidable boxing and kickboxing, Umar instead favours a kick-focused striking style and accents it with the Dagestani wrestling heritage of his namesake. In Umar's UFC debut last year, he out-struck, out-grappled, and then choked out Sergey Morozov (17-5) to earn the Performance of the Night award and $50,000 (before tax). The winner of this one will be particularly interesting since Umar Nurmagomedov is undefeated and Brian Kelleher is willing to risk losing again, whereas Umar isn't willing to risk losing for the first time. My money's on "Here Come's The Boom" Kelleher because he's in funner fights than Umar. Skill-wise it could swing either way.

UFC 272's main card starts this Sunday at 4:00 PM for us here in New Zealand, while the earliest prelims begin back at 12:00 AM. Enjoy!