Kamaru Usman thinks both Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal could be underestimating each other.

Welterweight champion Usman has beaten Masvidal (35-15 MMA, 12-8 UFC) and Covington (16-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) twice each and will attend their UFC 272 main event grudge match in person Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Former friends Masvidal and Covington helped strengthen each other’s games while serving as main training partners at American Top Team. But it’s been years since they’ve hit the mats together and Usman thinks they both could be in for a surprise when trying to exploit what they think is the other’s weakness.

“In this fight, Colby’s going to realize that it’s harder to take Masvidal down in an actual fight than when they were in practice,” Usman told ESPN. I know in his mind, he’s going to expect it to be like it was when they practiced. But they spent some time apart, and I think he’s going to realize it’s a lot harder to take him down in a fight than it is from practice.

“Masvidal, on the flip side, I think he’s going to realize that it’s a lot harder to strike with this guy now than back when ‘I was beating him up when he first came into the sport.’”

The current odds at Tipico have Covington as a sizable favorite at -360. But with Masvidal’s dynamic striking, Usman says “Gamebred” has the ability to change the fight with one strike.

“I think he could potentially win the fight because one thing about Masvidal is he’s one of the only guys who in his stance, he’s so tall in his stance – but he’s able to defend takedowns from some of the best wrestlers,” Usman said. “He’s very, very good at striking – so relaxed – and is so fast and he’s able to touch you. He might not feel as hard, but he can touch that button to be able to shut the lights off.

“I mean, being able to run across the octagon in five seconds, land a knee like that (against Ben Askren) just shows a different level of athleticism. He’s an athlete. He’s a skilled striker. He’s a skilled fighter, and he definitely has the tools to be able to land that shot to steal this fight away from Covington. So I’m excited. I can’t wait. I will be there. I haven’t been to a fight in a long time.”


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