Colby Covington did not feel like resorting to his wrestling skills in the fight against Kamaru Usman, because he was positive about beating him standing up.
However, things did not go as Covington had planned in the end, which he is still not happy about. Talking to MMA Junkie, he explained why ground-and-pound action was missing from their title fight, and how the refereeing of the bout turned things in Usman's favor.
Covington believes he almost made Usman quit
The two took it up in the main event at last December's UFC 245, where they almost went the full distance of the Championship fight. However, despite both the fighters having wrestling pedigree, not much grappling was seen in the contest, and Covington explains why.
"No, I was not surprised one bit that he didn’t want to wrestle because he knows that if he wrestles a D1 all-star like me, he’s going to get exposed and he’s going to get tired, and he’s going to gas. The reason I didn’t implement any wrestling is I was beating him up so easily standing."
Covington, who holds the record for most significant strikes attempted with 515 blows in the decision win over Robbie Lawler previously, was positive that he had Usman right where he wanted multiple times during the fight even without applying any wrestling skills.
"I wobbled him in the first, the second, and the fourth. I hurt him with the head kick, got a nasty body kick on him where he was about to quit. I caught him with some good straight lefts, good hooks, good uppercuts, and had him on wobbly legs multiple times, so I was having so much success striking that I didn’t need to wrestle. I was winning the whole entire fight, so I didn’t feel like I had to switch to the wrestling."
But the tables turned on him when referee Marc Goddard stepped in the last minute after Usman delivered a jaw-breaking punch and dropped Covington to the ground, and announced it a knockout win for the Champ.
Colby Covington: The rematch is going to be a different game plan
Covington, who is still not over the officiating of the fight, said that the breaks given by the referee were the crucial turning points of the bout that helped ease the pressure he was putting on Usman. The breaks were due to an eye poke and groin shot by Covington which he claims did not contact.
"I noticed that when I kicked him in the liver and I was starting to put the pressure on in the second round, he didn’t like that. He was ready to fold up, you could see it in his eyes. If you go freeze frame to when I kicked him in the liver and he turned around, you could see it in his eyes. He was ready to break and he was ready to quit, but when you get five minutes to recover in a fight and you get that two separate times, that’s 10 minutes of resting in a title fight. There’s no way for me to build momentum or build pressure on because he just takes breaks, and that’s cheating."
Covington has been pushing for a rematch ever since and has recently also stated that he expects a trilogy to come out of this rivalry. The result next time however, will be different, according to 'Chaos'.
"The rematch, there’s going to be a different game plan, a different strategy and I’m 110 percent confident that he won’t be able to stand with me."