Kamaru Usman was determined to silence Colby Covington.
A power striking attack that likely shattered Covington’s jaw capped off by two staggering knockdowns in the fifth round helped Usman accomplish his goal as he defended the welterweight title in the UFC 245 main event.
“This one’s not just for me. This one’s for the whole entire world right now,” Usman said in celebration.
Covington, who relished the jeers from the crowd, put up a serious fight because Usman had to battle through every minute of every round until he finally got the TKO in round 5.
There was no feeling out process whatsoever with Usman looking to establish his right hand in the opening round and Covington firing back with punches in bunches. Usman was finding success with his lead right hand as he took advantage of a longer reach while Covington was settling into a rhythm with a volume striking attack.
Through two rounds neither fighter attempted a takedown and the difference seemed to be Covington’s pace as he was connecting with the better shots, although Usman landed plenty of his own in return.
As much as Covington’s corner implored him to push the pace, Usman was able to slow him down by targeting the body with a series of uppercuts and the occasional kick.
Heading into the fourth round, Covington told his corner that he may have suffered a broken jaw but he still came out firing with no fear of the consequences. In fact, Covington landed with arguably his best punches up to that point in the fight as he blasted Usman with a stiff right hand and a hard uppercut during a fiery exchange.
Usman was at his best when he stayed technical with his boxing, which led to that same right hand connecting flush on Covington’s already damaged jaw.
With five minutes remaining, Usman and Covington were both asked to dig deep to pull out the win after an impossibly close fight. Covington continued to fire down the middle with a stinging left but Usman saw an opening for that powerful right hand.
The beginning of the end came after Usman blasted Covington with two devastating right hands and it was the second shot that put the outspoken former interim champion down for the last time. Usman swarmed on him with punches as Covington tried to hold onto his legs but referee Marc Goddard saw enough and called a stop to the contest at 4:10 into the final round.
“He was tough as nails. He caught me a few times. My mind is stronger than all these guys,” Usman said following the stoppage.
“I’m the best in the world. I’m going to keep improving and I’m going to give you guys a show each and every time.”
It was a statement performance for Usman, who endured months of trash talk from Covington leading up to the fight. There were no post fight comments from Covington, however, as he sprinted out of the Octagon in protest after disagreeing with the stoppage by the referee in the final round.