Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington in the main event of UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden to remain the welterweight champion. The heated rematch went the full five rounds before the judges declared Usman the winner by unanimous decision.
With the win, Usman moved to 15-0 in the UFC, one win shy of Anderson Silva's record for the longest win streak in the organization's history. Despite the months of trash talk, both fighters showed mutual respect to each other after the fight.
The two embraced after the fifth round and shared words.
"When you share an octagon with someone this tough you can't help it," Usman said in his post-fight interview. "He hit me with some shots. I could tell him and his coaches over there at MMA Masters they been working on it ... I had to show him that respect."
Covington's implemented a new strategy in the second fight, integrating takedowns and a new pace from the last fight. However, Usman stuffed every takedown attempt by Covington to keep his career takedown defense rating at 100%.
Both fighters traded punches as the fight went on with Usman stunning Covington with a right hook that dropped him to the canvas in the second round and Covington firing back with some combinations of his own in the fourth.
Usman still was able to reign victorious by remaining calm and picking his shots, outlasting Covington's late onslaught.
The stacked card also featured another successful title defense as strawweight champion Rose Namajunas defeated Weili Zhang by split decision in the co-main event. Namajunas, who beat Zhang by first-round TKO in their last title fight back in April, had to dig deep to get the victory over the Chinese fighter in New York City.
Zhang enlisted the help of former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo to help her improve her ground game, Cejudo's influence was prevalent in Zhang's game plan as she attempted to wrestle Namajunas late in rounds to secure points.
Thug Rose, however, took note of this effort, adjusting her game plan and scoring a takedown of her own early in the fifth round. Namajunas evaded Zhang's up-kicks and came back with ground and pound of her own to secure the victory and her first title defense of the second championship reign of her career.
"I had a feeling it was going to be a way tougher fight and [Zhang] improved a lot." Namajuanas said after the victory. "Gotta give her some props. I know what I have to work on now."
The fight of the night went to the first matchup on the main card featuring Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler. The bout was billed as a banger and delivered as both fighters landed devastating blows for three rounds straight. Gaethje started off the fight by hitting Chandler with his patented low calf kicks. At first, Chandler was able to handle the kicks and out-landed Gaethje in the first couple rounds behind a solid jab.
In the second round, Gaethje began to put things together on the feet. Stunning Chandler and knocking him to the canvas. It appeared the fight might have been over but Chandler withstood the barrage of punches from Chandler and got to his feet.
In the third round, Chandler accomplished a feat that almost no fighter has ever been able to do to Gaejthe in UFC, landing a double-leg takedown with under three minutes left. Gaejthe however was able to quickly scramble to Chandler's back and end the round on his feet as the two traded. The fight, billed as one of the best of the year, certainly delivered and could be an entrance into the UFC Hall of Fame one day.
Usman, Namajuanas and Gaejthe completed a historic sweep for MMA coach Trevor Wittman. Wittman appears to be in the running for coach of the year helping all three of his fighters compile a 6-0 record combined in 2021.
For Usman, a fight with welterweight contender Leon Edwards could be next if Edwards can get past Jorge Masvidal at UFC 269 in December.
Gaejthe will also have his eyes on that December pay-per-view card as he awaits the winner of the lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier.
Namajunas on the other hand likely already has her next opponent lined up in former strawweight champion Carla Esparza.
Namajunas and Esparza last fought in the inaugural strawweight championship nearly seven years ago.
Prior to her victory over Zhang, Namajunas expressed interest in facing Esparza again and avenging the first UFC loss of her career.