For two men who don’t like each other, Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington are sure hesitant to get in the cage together.
Usually, MMA welcomes bad blood. Fighters have the luxury of being able to get in the Octagon and settle their differences. After a few rounds of punching, kicking, and submissions, it isn’t uncommon for the two combatants to shake hands after leaving their rage in the cage.
However, to do that, they need to get in the cage first. While both Usman and Covington have looked great in their previous fights, the negotiations for their upcoming welterweight title match are apparently facing problems.
While the bout was initially targeted for UFC 244 in New York, negotiations have reportedly stalled. There’s no word about whether it’s money, timing, or personal issues, but there are concerns that it is holding up the welterweight title picture.
Usman won the title by defeating Tyron Woodley in dominant fashion at UFC 235, but an injury has kept him out of action ever since. Covington, a former interim champion who still claims the title, recently dominated former champ Robbie Lawler on an ESPN card.
The two men have opposite personalities, but similar styles. Usman is a Nigerian-born immigrant who does most of his talking in the cage, while Covington is a boisterous antagonistic loudmouth who sells fights with his promos. Both men bring it when the door closes, using a combination of grappling and pace to melt their opponents.
While it would be nice to see them actually fight each other, fans may have to wait for that. Luckily, in the meantime, there are plenty of other options. One of them is having Jorge Masvidal challenge for the title against Usman. Masvidal comes off two knockout wins – one over the former title contender Darren Till and another over the previously undefeated Ben Askren – that one in record time. It’s hard to say he hasn’t earned it.
There’s also the option to have Leon Edwards tossed in the mix, as he’s on an impressive win streak and has improved since his loss to Usman years back. Even Nate Diaz could be in the conversation with another win or two, as he recently defeated Anthony Pettis after a long layoff.
Usman and Covington had words in the commentary booth after Covington’s last win, so it seems like they’d be dying to fight one another. However, for some reason, that just isn’t the case. Usman hasn’t seemed to be as active as he was before he won the title, while Covington seemed to get a little picky recently as well.
To be paid like stars and be able to negotiate like stars, fighters must draw like stars. If both men can’t bring buy rates and fan interest, dragging out talks for better deals may be a bad idea. It’s only going to tick off the promotion, the fans, and ultimately, the boss.
Should the UFC move on and create another title match, since this one is taking so long?