Covington and Masvidal, who has become one of the UFC's biggest stars, are former best friends and roommates in the midst of a very angry, public falling out. Pitting them against one another, especially because they remain "teammates" at American Top Team, would have been big business for the UFC.
Usman obviously did not buy in to those plans. He finished Covington via TKO at 4:10 of the fifth round Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to retain the UFC welterweight title.
It wasn't talked about much leading in, but what about Usman vs. Masvidal in a future title fight? UFC president Dana White said he would be very interested.
"It's massive," White said.
On paper, Usman defending his title against Masvidal makes sense. ESPN has Masvidal ranked No. 3 at welterweight, behind Usman and Covington. He would appear to be next in line after finishing Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz in 2019. The latter was the UFC 244 main event at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"The Masvidal fight now versus Usman is a big deal," White said.
Masvidal is likely to wait to see what happens between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Jan. 18 before he makes any decisions about his next bout. McGregor doesn't have a title, but he's the biggest money fight out there. Masvidal also has to heal hands he damaged in three fights this year.
As for Usman, he didn't seem as in favor of fighting Masvidal. When asked about him at the post-fight press conference Saturday, he responded: "Who?" Usman mentioned Leon Edwards as a potential next opponent. ESPN has Edwards ranked No. 6 at welterweight. Edwards has won eight straight and has not lost since 2015 -- when he fought Usman. In interviews last week, Usman mentioned Edwards as his toughest opponent, and he stood by that Saturday night, even after the Covington fight.
"If you're talking about someone who is deserving, Leon Edwards hasn't lost since he fought me," Usman said. "He's finishing guys. And he's now finding himself in a position that I found myself in a little over a year ago, is everyone knew I was one of the toughest guys out there and they didn't want to gamble and take a risk on [fighting] me."
Ultimately, though, Usman said he would be willing to take on whomever the UFC wants next.
"Right now, I'm sitting above looking at all these guys, and they're kind of all in that pool," Usman said. "Very tightly contested. They just need to break out, and I'm waiting for whoever Dana and the organization feel the next guy is for me. And I'll be happy. I never turn down a fight. Especially now, I'm the champion. If they say this is the next guy, then hey, that's the next guy."
Meanwhile, Alexander Volkanovski won the UFC featherweight title at UFC 245 by beating Max Holloway by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45). It was a close fight, and Holloway had been champion since 2017 with a winning streak in the division dating back to 2013.
White said Holloway "100 percent" deserves an immediate rematch, and he posited the idea of doing it in Australia, Volkanovski's home country. Volkanovski's teammate Israel Adesanya, who hails from New Zealand, is now the UFC middleweight champion. Oceania is in the midst of a renaissance period in MMA.
"Why not do the rematch and do it in Australia?" White said. "Australia has become a massive market for us, man. Now that super talented people are coming out of that area, it's getting bigger."
On Saturday, former longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo dropped down to bantamweight for UFC 245, falling by split decision to Marlon Moraes. It was a very close fight that some scored for Aldo -- including bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. White said Cejudo wants Aldo next, even though he technically lost.
"Cejudo hit me up tonight and said, 'Jose Aldo absolutely won that fight and I think you should treat him like he won that fight,'" White said. "He said, 'I want Jose Aldo.'"
In response, White said he did not tell Cejudo no. Cejudo holds both the UFC's flyweight and bantamweight belts. Aldo is a surefire UFC Hall of Famer one day, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters ever, though no longer in his prime.
"We'll see," White said. "He wants it. That's what he wants. Cejudo is the man right now. So we'll talk about it."