UFC 272: Colby Covington beats Jorge Masvidal in grudge match

By Simon HeadMMA writer
Colby Covington (red gloves) fights Jorge Masvidal (blue gloves) during UFC 272 at T-Mobile Arena
Colby Covington (left) and Jorge Masvidal used to be training partners

Former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington claimed victory after a bitter battle with former friend Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272 in Las Vegas.

Covington, 34, and Masvidal, 37, faced off in the main event at the T-Mobile Arena in a five-round non-title fight, and it was Covington who proved victorious via unanimous decision after dominating his rival throughout the majority of the 25-minute contest.

The match-up was the culmination of a bitter war of words after their long-time friendship broke down and turned into a heated rivalry.

The pair were formerly close friends and training partners at South Florida gym American Top Team, and were almost inseparable during their early UFC careers.

But a row over Covington's alleged non-payment of Masvidal's long-time striking coach Paulino Hernandez saw the pair eventually thrown out of the gym as tensions became too much for gym owner Dan Lambert to manage.

As one of the gym's most senior fighters, Masvidal eventually returned, but Covington joined rival gym MMA Masters. The rivalry between the pair has simmered ever since.

That rivalry finally came to a head during Saturday night's clash, where, despite briefly being dropped by a huge Masvidal right hand in round four, Covington walked away with bragging rights after a bout dominated by his wrestling saw him awarded the verdict with scores of 49-46, 50-44 and 50-45.

'Chaos' targets next grudge match

After claiming victory in one grudge match, Covington immediately set his sights on another as he called out another former American Top Team fighter, former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.

"I just took care of Miami street trash. Now it's time to take care of Louisiana swamp trash!" Covington said.

"Dustin Poirier, you said it was 'on sight'. Name the site, Dustin!"

A bitterly disappointed Masvidal admitted he wasn't at his sharpest during the bout.

"I was offbeat with the wrestling. I need to wrestle harder. I was flat-footed today."

Dos Anjos dominates

Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Renato Moicano (blue gloves)
Rafael Dos Anjos (right) was fighting an opponent who only stepped in with five days' notice

The co-main event saw Rafael Dos Anjos claim a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Renato Moicano in their short-notice catchweight contest.

Former UFC lightweight champion Dos Anjos, 37, was originally set to face Rafael Fiziev in a five-round lightweight match-up.

But, after the bout was pushed back a week to allow Fiziev's visa issues to be addressed, the Kyrgyzstani contender was forced out of the match-up because of a positive Covid test.

With Dos Anjos' participation on the fight card in jeopardy, Moicano offered to step in to face his compatriot on five days' notice, and the pair agreed to compete in a five-round catchweight bout at 160lb.

As the fighter with a full fight camp under his belt, Dos Anjos looked noticeably stronger as he dominated Moicano with his superior cardio and wrestling through the early rounds, then dropped his man with a huge head kick in round three as he came close to securing a TKO finish.

Somehow Moicano made it until the end of the round, but he had no answer to Dos Anjos' relentless pressure as he claimed a landslide victory on the scorecards with scores of 49-45, 49-44 and 50-44.

'Thug Nasty' stays unbeaten

Rising featherweight contender Bryce Mitchell extended his perfect professional record with a dominant win over one of the most spectacular strikers in the UFC.

Mitchell, 27, used his superior grappling skills to defeat Brazilian veteran Edson Barboza, 36, via unanimous decision after three one-sided rounds in their main card bout.

Mitchell effectively neutralised Barboza's knockout threat by taking his man to the mat and dominating the exchanges on the ground.

The Arkansas native's dominance was reflected on the scorecards, with all three judges giving 'Thug Nasty' victory with scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27 to take his unblemished career to 15-0.

After his victory, Mitchell pledged to use his platform, and his earnings, to help sick children in his home state.

"Arkansas, I love you to death. For 10 years, you've have had my back, and I've not done a damn thing for y'all," he said.

"I'm about to show you all I'm not just good at hurting people. I can help people. Half of my fight purse, $45,000 (£34,000), is going to Arkansas children with medical conditions, who have no hope. We will be their hope. In the name of God, these children will be healed."

Best of the rest

Former middleweight contender Kevin Holland began a new chapter as a UFC welterweight with a second-round finish of Brazilian veteran Alex 'Cowboy' Oliveira.

Texas native Holland, 29, made a stuttering start as Oliveira started well, but Holland was fully dialled in by the start of the second round.

'Trailblazer' came flying out of his corner, rocked Oliveira with a big right hand, then finished him with ground strikes 38 seconds after the restart to earn his 22nd career victory and his first in the welterweight division.

In the first main card bout of the night, Moldovan heavyweight Serghei Spivac needed just half a round to finish American Greg Hardy.

Spivac, 27, suffered a first-round TKO defeat by England's Tom Aspinall last September, but bounced back in style against Hardy to claim the 14th win of his career via first-round ground and pound.

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