Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
The friends-turned-enemies battle between former teammates takes place in a five-round non-title fight in the main event of UFC 272. The card takes place March 5 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and in Anik’s eyes, the high-stakes matchup is giving off slight Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson vibes.
“It’s hugely high stakes in terms of the welterweight division,” Anik told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “We’re gonna get a lot of clarity at 170 pounds.
“I think it’s very interesting stylistically because a lot of people feel like Covington is gonna be a 5-to-1 favorite and has all the advantages in terms of where this fight is gonna take place. I like the fact that it’s gonna be in a 30-foot octagon at the T-Mobile Arena, and some people think I make too much of that, but I do feel like the little [cage] favors the grappler, so I think for Masvidal, it’s better to have this fight in a 30 footer.
“But yeah, man, it’s fascinating. There’s a lot of different layers to it, and if Covington is going to get a third crack at Usman — who presumably is going to fight Leon Edwards next — this is a fight he absolutely has to win, and I think the same could be said for Masvidal. I think whoever loses this fight is probably never gonna fight for the belt again.”
Being around and calling fights for both welterweight over many years, Anik has seen Covington and Masvidal at their most friendly. Things have obviously gotten progressively more heated over the last few years.
As a lifelong fan of sports, the rivalry between the former interim champion and “BMF” titleholder is exactly what Anik is looking for.
“I get anxious when I’m asked about this fight, and in the best of ways as a sports fan thinking about these guys making the walk,” Anik said. “When there’s heat on a matchup — and there most definitely is here — it elevates everything for the fighters, the fans, the broadcasters. If you asked me if I would rather a fight be [with] the ultimate sportsmanship, hugging before the third round, or do I want them hating each other, I would certainly lead towards them hating each other.
“I’ve sat behind Covington and Masvidal on an airplane when they were buddy-buddy sitting next to each other. They weren’t just friends — they were boys, man. Obviously, that’s a very unique backdrop to this fight.”