Best and worst from UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington

Kamaru Usman broke Colby Covington's jaw en route to a fifth round TKO win
Kamaru Usman broke Colby Covington's jaw en route to a fifth round TKO win
Scott Newman

The UFC’s final pay-per-view of the decade is in the books, and boy, what a show we got. This was one of 2019’s best shows, with practically every fight delivering in terms of action. The three title fights all lived up to their hype – albeit in different ways – and we even got an unexpected new champion crowned.

Here are the best and worst moments from UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington.

#1 Best: Usman shuts Covington up....for now

Usman defended his UFC title in impressive fashion
Usman defended his UFC title in impressive fashion

The main event – a Welterweight title fight between champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Colby Covington – was the Fight of the Night in my opinion, as the two wrestlers came out and threw their grappling out of the window, choosing to stand and trade shots for basically the entire 25 minutes, and in the end, it was Usman who came out on top.

Covington – who had always been able to overwhelm his past opponents with his high-pressure style – started quickly, but Usman always appeared to be the smoother, harder-hitting striker. The fact that ‘Chaos’ couldn’t use the threat of the takedown against the Nigerian as he had against the likes of Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos began to tell midway through the fight.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ began to really work the challenger over, digging to the body with uppercuts and front kicks to soften him up, and when Covington’s jaw was apparently broken by a right hand late in the third round, the writing was on the wall. ‘Chaos’ pushed back strongly in the fourth and fifth rounds, but eventually he ate a huge right hand late in the fifth that sat him down, and after another right dropped him for a second time, Usman sealed the deal.

The way that the fight ended – with Covington running out of the Octagon nursing his jaw – was poetic justice, as he’d used controversial, quasi-racist rhetoric against Usman to build the fight up, and despite claiming to be “playing a character” he came off far more offensively than other trash-talkers like Chael Sonnen and Conor McGregor had ever done. Hopefully the loss changes his attitude somewhat – not likely, admittedly – and for now, Kamaru Usman remains the best in the world at 170lbs. Chalk one up for the good guys!

#1 Worst: The judging in the Moraes/Aldo fight

Marlon Moraes' win over Jose Aldo featured some questionable judging
Marlon Moraes' win over Jose Aldo featured some questionable judging

The majority of UFC fans – myself included – firmly believed that Jose Aldo’s drop to 135lbs to face Marlon Moraes was a mistake. Well, the former UFC Featherweight champion lost his debut in his new division, but in the end, it turned out that his performance was far better than his last one at 145lbs, and the worst thing about the fight was the performance of the judges.

Moraes came out strongly and appeared to have Aldo on the ropes early, but ‘Junior’ hung tough, and then turned up the heat in the second and third rounds to the point where he had ‘Magic’ backing up for the majority of the final ten minutes. The stats appeared to back that up too, with the more fluid Aldo reportedly landing more strikes in the second and third rounds than his fellow Brazilian.

Somehow though, two of the three judges decided that Moraes had done enough to win the fight, 29-28. Quite how they came to that conclusion is anyone’s guess, and is more evidence – along with other questionable decisions lately like Cody Stamann’s recent draw with Song Yadong – that despite supposed improvements, MMA judging still has a lot of improving to do before it becomes completely credible.

#2 Best: Nunes once again shows her brilliance

Amanda Nunes remains the greatest female fighter on the planet
Amanda Nunes remains the greatest female fighter on the planet

Coming into UFC 245, Amanda Nunes was widely recognised as the greatest female fighter in MMA history, and while she had some sticky moments last night against challenger Germaine De Randamie, her spot on the throne remains safe after another victory. Nunes attempted to overwhelm her Dutch foe early, but when that proved difficult – and ‘The Iron Lady’ began to land the better strikes in the second round – she switched to her ground game to basically grind out a victory.

Nunes is reaching the same stage as past great champions like Georges St-Pierre and Demetrious Johnson in that due to her well-rounded skills – she’s a great technical striker, she hits insanely hard, and she’s also an excellent grappler – she can pick and choose where to beat her opponents. There are few fighters out there like that right now, and it’s why ‘The Lioness’ hasn’t lost since 2014.

Who’s next for the Brazilian? After her stunning KO of Ketlen Vieira on the prelims last night, probably Mexico’s Irene Aldana. Can she beat Nunes? In all honesty, probably not, but at the end of the day, every successful defense just adds to Nunes’ legacy. We’re watching greatness in action when it comes to ‘The Lioness’ and it’s a lot of fun to see.

#2 Worst: Faber goes down hard

Petr Yan put Urijah Faber down hard
Petr Yan put Urijah Faber down hard

Okay, so firstly I’ll say that Petr Yan fought amazingly well last night, showing calmness under fire when his opponent Urijah Faber did put some offense together, and destroying him with his own brutal strikes when he found the opportunity. He more than deserves a title shot at Bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo at this point. So why is this in the ‘Worst’ section?

Well, because it’s just not fun to have to watch a legend like Faber get beaten up like that. ‘The California Kid’ had taken beatings before – Mike Brown, Jose Aldo and Renan Barao all hurt him badly – but I’m not sure any of them dismantled Faber like this. The former WEC champion went down three times – all in vicious fashion – before being stopped, and the left side of his face looked like it’d been hit by a machete.

Faber came out of retirement this summer and looked great in his win over Ricky Simon, but judging by last night – even though Yan is clearly near the top of the tree right now – the 40-year old should probably consider going back on his return. He’s got nothing more to prove and clearly, another title run is miles beyond him. It just isn’t 2008 anymore, as painful as that is to admit!

#3 Best: Volkanovski finds a way

Alexander Volkanovski upset Max Holloway to become UFC Featherweight champion
Alexander Volkanovski upset Max Holloway to become UFC Featherweight champion

The big surprise of the night came in the Featherweight title match between champion Max Holloway and challenger Alexander Volkanovski, as the Australian managed to find a way to get past the Hawaiian, edging him out on the scorecards to make himself the second Aussie champion to be crowned in 2019.

The big question coming in was how ‘Alexander The Great’ would deal with the range and combination striking of Holloway, and we quickly found out; the Aussie used some nasty leg kicks to slow ‘Blessed’ down and damage him to the point where he was unable to use his footwork and angles to really open up with his combos. The pace that Volkanovski put on through the early rounds was phenomenal, and while Holloway did fight back late on, that early work put in proved to be the difference – there was only ever one winner here.

With the victory – to go along with his win earlier this year over former champion Jose Aldo – the Aussie is clearly the best 145lber on the planet right now. What’s next for him? Knowing the UFC’s style, probably a rematch with Holloway. If he can get through that, then he could be in for a dominant title reign indeed.

Edited by Raunak J
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