Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal: What is at stake?
UFC 272 is a pretty good card - one that may not reveal all of its secrets straight off the bat, but make no mistake, there are more than a few reasons to get excited here - more than a few bouts that will likely have implications for a number of divisions moving forward.
And before we even get into that matchup and the pair’s uniquely interesting dynamic - it’s important to note that both men are in a pretty tough position right now.
It’s not often you get two top contenders facing off in a main-event level showdown with both having suffered two separate defeats to the reigning champion.
Both men have been finished by Kamaru Usman and both have fallen by way of decision - and though Colby’s pair of matchups were far more evenly contested than Masvidal’s were, each man stands to lose quite a lot if they fail to win in this non-title pay-per-view main-event.
Because, while from a competitive standpoint, I could totally see a scenario where Colby finds his way back into the cage with Usman again - he really will have to do something quite special to ignite the public’s interest in his chances in a third matchup.
Sure, the second fight was quite close - but in reality, as a pairing, it didn’t leave us salivating at the prospect of a third fight in the way that would make it seem like a realistic prospect this year.
I mean, look, if Colby goes in there and does something truly spectacular - something that forces us to reassess him and his fighting approach and how it could be a threat to Kamaru then perhaps.
Just like with Jorge, I think there is a need for a transformative win for both guys - Colby with how it reflects on our perception of his path to victory through his fighting style and its danger levels - and for Masvidal, simply because he needs it - a victory that sees him recapture the imagination of the public after a truly brutal knockout loss.
So while, yes, I do think that both men would benefit hugely from a win - I do think that Colby will need to do more than just win to fully reap the rewards that may come from this contest.
A victory under virtually any circumstances will be good enough for Masvidal’s stock to get an almighty kick. The question is whether it will be enough to make anyone crave for a third matchup with Usman.
So yea, these two guys - while certainly in different positions in their careers and within the welterweight ranks - will both have to look at this fight as a unique one in their respective trajectories.
With that top-billed pay per view position to serve as their platform, the stage will be set for the winner to make an argument for their inclusion in the title mix coming into the second half of this year.
Because, truth be told - while the welterweight division is a truly excellent weight-class, its top-10 is definitely in a bit of a transitional period right now.
Obviously, Leon Edwards deserves to be the next in line for the belt - but guys like Gilbert Burns, Vicente Luque, and Belal Muhammad haven’t got that title-challenger win just yet - while prospects like Sean Brady, Khamzat Chimaev, and Shavkat Rakhmonov are still some way off breaking into the discussion.
Then the likes of Colby and Masvidal - even with a decent win next weekend - could still find themselves in limbo for the rest of 2022.
Usman hasn’t quite cleared out the division just yet - but he has certainly left it stunted to some extent.
And I do think that, especially for Colby, I could see the UFC opting to do a third matchup to keep the champ ticking over until the likes of Chimaev has had their shot at breaking through. Not that I think it’s an absolute certainly that Usman would win - but we’ve seen enough from him to suggest that it is the most likely scenario. As for Jorge getting a third crack at him, I’m not so sure.
But what a win for Gamebred would do, is open the door to more big-purses - more big fights that would fill that BMF belt kind of role in his future.
And I do think that Jorge understands this - a rematch with Nate would obviously be big bank - and moving forward, given that the clock is ticking on his best years in the sport - everything I have heard from Masvidal seems to suggest that he knows his role - knows that the matchup here, against Colby, isn’t so much an opportunity to get back at Usman as it is to take part in a blockbuster showdown with its huge selling point coming in the form of their grudge match.
And yea, a loss - especially in the fashion that Colby is known to dish them out - could damage his brand - but if Covington gets sucked into this contest and the personal edge it has, opting to contest a lot of it on the feet - I really do believe that this could be a lot of fun.
Both guys have very different striking styles - and are just solid no matter where the bout ends up.
And just like I don’t think that Masvidal would be anything close to helpless in the face of Colby’s wrestling - if that’s the route he takes - I also don’t think that Jorge’s supposed edge in the striking department will be as pronounced as people think.
Technically, sure, but Covington’s game is something that makes him a very unique danger within this sport.
So how do I see it going?
Well, I would expect that Jorge’s going to bring the fire to this fight - and based on their shared history - I would not be surprised in the slightest to see this one get ugly, as both men, seeing the opportunity to put on a show, and knowing where they both stand in relation to Usman - choose to elevate this matchups stakes through fight week before really letting it go on Saturday night.
Yea, look, I’d favour Colby on the cards - although I wouldn’t rule out a Masvidal stoppage - but above all other things - I believe this matchup will be an all-out war.
All things considered, I think really bringing the thunder here would do wonders for the winner’s stock in a way that a regular victory might not. And while it did take a while for me to come around to it, I’m definitely quite excited to see how it turns out!