Ben Askren: Colby Covington deserved Kamaru Usman rematch over Jorge Masvidal
Usman is set to rematch Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 261 on April 24 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.
Having already beat the top-four ranked fighters in his division, a rematch was likely for Usman. Before stopping Gilbert Burns at UFC 258, Usman finished Colby Covington in the fifth round at UFC 245, which was followed by a lopsided unanimous decision win over Masvidal at UFC 251.
Masvidal hasn’t competed since losing to Usman, whereas Covington rebounded with a stoppage win over former champ Tyron Woodley last September. That being said, Askren, the former Bellator and ONE champion, thinks Usman’s win over Masvidal was a lot more definitive than Covington, so Covington should have gotten the title rematch instead.
“I didn’t like that booking actually,” Askren said in an interview with MMA personality Helen Yee. “I said this also, and I got a lot of pushback, and I was really surprised. To me, or to the scorecards, that was a 50-43 fight. Jorge won no rounds, he won zero, and he lost 10-8 in two of them, and you had Colby vs. Usman, which was 2-2 going into the fifth round. Colby ended up getting knocked out, but it was really competitive. Colby has won a fight since then; Jorge has not.
“Obviously there could be some stuff behind the scenes that I’m not seeing because that’s not my job that is preventing Colby from getting another shot. Nobody likes Colby. Like, no fans are like, ‘Oh sh*t, we want Colby to get the shot’ because nobody actually likes him. But even me, who doesn’t like him, thinks that probably would have made a lot more sense.”
Covington has given Usman his toughest test to date in the octagon. One judge even had him up three rounds to one going into the fifth, but Usman was able to leave it out of the judges’ hands by finishing Covington, who has questioned the stoppage and campaigned for a rematch ever since.
Covington even expressed interest in a matchup with best friend-turned-enemy Masvidal, but with the recent title booking, he has been left out of the equation, with Leon Edwards calling him out.