According to Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman would’ve paid dearly if he hadn’t agreed to their rematch in the UFC 268 main event.
Usman and Covington initially fought at UFC 245 in December 2019, with Usman retaining his welterweight crown with a fifth-round technical knockout victory. Covington has campaigned for a rematch since then but claims that Usman and his team did everything in their power to avoid the return date.
In the meantime, Covington returned to action with a fifth-round TKO win over Tyron Woodley in September 2020. Usman has been more active, with a pair of successful title defenses against Jorge Masvidal as well as a victory over Gilbert Burns.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen. They did not want it to happen,” Covington told ESPN. “His manager, they were refusing. They were trying to find every way in the book out of fighting this rematch. They didn’t want this fight, man, and the only reason they have to take it is the UFC gave him no choice. They said, ‘Hey, you fight this fighter or we just strip you – it’s one or the other.’ You’ve got to come out and prove you’re the best in the world. There needs to be no controversies surrounding this fight, so it’s been tough.
“I had to go out and finish a former world champion in Woodley. He got two easy paychecks against lightweights that should have never been there. In his last fight, he’s beaten a guy ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal. I was beating that guy decades ago. That’s not an achievement. You’re proud for beating that guy? That guy is a lightweight, he shouldn’t even be up here at the top of the mountain.”
Covington, of course, is known for his over-the-top bluster, so it’s unclear if the UFC truly did threaten such extreme measures against Usman, who by and large has been an active champion since winning the belt in March 2019. Covington is not impressed by Usman’s recent performances, when “The Nigerian Nightmare” scored back-to-back KO/TKO wins over Burns and Masvidal.
“I haven’t seen anything,” Covington said. “I see the same fighter. He comes out with a heavy jab, has a big right hand. That’s kind of been the story of his career before, and that’s what he always went to in the past. So yeah, he’s knocking out lightweights, he’s knocking out guys that shouldn’t be in there with him. These are easy paychecks.”