Absent some minor adjustments from opponent to opponent, Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) largely brings the same strategy into the octagon for every bout. His combination of pace, pressure, striking and wrestling are difficult to deal with, but if anyone was going to have an answer, it would’ve been Masvidal (35-16 MMA, 12-9 UFC), right?
Despite having an intimate knowledge of Covington from time as primary training partners, roommates and good friends, Masvidal wasn’t able to consistently thwart Covington’s offense, and the result was a unanimous decision loss at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith is struggling to wrap his head around the way the fight played out. Masvidal claimed in the aftermath of the fight that he felt “flat” and that’s why he couldn’t stifle Covington’s game plan, but Smith can’t get behind that as a valid excuse.
Smith gave his insights on the fight during Monday’s edition of “First Take.”
I’m a huge, huge Masvidal fan. I think he’s great for the sport because he’s got knockout power in both punches, he can obviously use that knee very well and he has improved his wrestling. But Colby Covington showed that he’s on a different level from a wrestling standpoint, and from a stamina standpoint. One of the things that I paid attention to coming into this fight is something that Colby Covington said. Because he knew him and they were former best friends and roommates turned enemies, Covington said, ‘Masvidal trains for his fights; I live this.’ What he was talking about is he is always in shape. He’s never out of shape. He’s renowned for his condition and the pressure he’s able to apply and how he never lets up because he keeps on coming. I saw Masvidal gutsy and survive the five rounds, but while he was waving Covington on to come on, ‘Let’s get some more.’ He was literally using two security personnel to lean on because that’s how exhausted he was. Covington looked like he was just starting. He was that energized. The guy is in phenomenal shape, he’s an outstanding wrestler and Masvidal admitted that his wrestling was flat. How was it flat coming into this fight knowing this guy as well as you know him and knowing what he was going to try to do to you, and how much you supposedly hate him? How you were not ready for a wrestling match, I don’t understand. It’s inexplicable.”
Masvidal admitted after the fight he’s bitter about losing to Covington, but intends to get back to training after some short time off after dropping his third consecutive fight.
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