Kamaru Usman punches Colby Covington at UFC 268. | Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
The champion is open to a third fight with Covington, but he needs wins over contenders first.
If Colby Covington wants a third fight with Kamaru Usman, then he has to fight contenders in his own division to get it.
Usman and Covington have shared the Octagon twice, with the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ besting ‘Chaos’ at UFC 245 and UFC 268 to retain his welterweight championship. Given just how close the fights were, a trilogy could happen and it is something Usman is open to at some point. However, that depends on whether Covington can get a few wins against the upper echelon of the division.
Usman spoke with Brett Okamoto of ESPN and explained that Covington could earn himself another championship opportunity if he keeps drumming up interest in his fights and defeats fellow contenders vying for their shot at gold. The reigning champion provided names like Gilbert Burns, Vicente Luque and Belal Muhammad, all of whom are currently ranked in the top five. He even included Khamzat Chimaev, the undefeated star known for his ability to finish a fight with relative ease.
“He’s doing the right things right now,” said Usman. “He’s selling himself. You got to sell yourself and you actually have to go out there and deliver and fight. Right now, it doesn’t make sense. Go out there and sell yourself. There’s a guy in the division that everyone is kind of giving all this hoopla about, so go out there. There’s a couple more fights you need to take on. You haven’t fought Gilbert Burns. You haven’t fought Vicente Luque. You haven’t fought Chimaev, so go out there and get a couple of wins.
“Then, continue to sell yourself and then you can stake that claim to what people won’t deny you anymore,” continued Usman. “So, yeah. He needs to go out there, get some wins. You got Chimaev. You got Burns. You got Luque. You got Belal Muhammad, he’s there as well. Beat a couple more guys and shut those contenders down because right now, somebody can leap frog you. So you shut them all down like Francis Ngannou did, then there’ll be no talk about it. We would have to fight for a third time.”
Covington has already met one of the criteria for a trilogy with Usman, as his braggadocious persona continues to garner plenty of reaction from fans and pundits. Unfortunately, the MMA Masters product has shown no interest in fighting those names that Usman suggested. He has shifted his focus to either Dustin Poirier or Israel Adesanya for his next appearance in the Octagon, but those men are outside his division.
Of course, wins over either Poirier or Adesanya would be impressive in their own right, but Usman warned Covington that they would not lead to that third and final fight.
“I respect and I appreciate it in a different sense,” said Usman when asked about Covington’s recent callouts. “Yeah, he’s building himself. So, yes, of course, I understand that. And, of course, you’re making money. I understand and respect that. But, on the flip side, don’t expect to cut the line when guys like Vicente Luque are in the division holding off everybody else. When Gilbert Burns is in the division, beating up everyone else. So don’t expect to just jump the line because you built yourself outside, fighting guys that are not at the top of this weight division. So, yeah. I respect it. Get your money, of course. We can only do this for a short time, so go ahead and get your money. But at the same time, don’t expect to cut these guys in line.”
Next in line for Usman is a defense against Leon Edwards in a highly anticipated rematch set for sometime in the summer.