LAS VEGAS - As much as some would like to see it, Colby Covington isn't going anywhere any time soon.
The foul-mouthed, polarizing standout picked up arguably the biggest win of his career against former friend Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-44, 50-45) in the main event of UFC 272 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. Covington used his dominant wrestling, pressure and crafty striking to wear out Masvidal, who was able to gut it out until the end.
Afterward, Covington called out another one of his former training partners, Dustin Poirier, who he called "Louisiana swamp trash."
"I'll see you soon," Covington said. "You're next!"
Round-by-round coverage of Covington vs. Masvidal
Round 1: Just how you draw it up if you're a Colby Covington fan. Colby works his way into the hips and stays on Masvidal from the moment he gets there. Takedown. Ground control. Easy 10-9. Masvidal complained of an eye poke on Colby's way in. Still plenty of fight in Masvidal, of course, but a great start for Colby.
Round 2: Jorge Masvidal is showing that mean streak in the second round. Terrific offense on the feet. Defended Covington's takedowns. Landing elbows, knees. Covington landed a few punches of his own and had one moment with a takedown and choke attempt, but that is a tremendous round for Masvidal. 19-19 after two.
Round 3: Covington regains control in the third. Early takedown of Masvidal against the fence. Masvidal didn't put up much of a fight on the takedown defense. Covington controls Masvidal the majority of the round, good ground and pound. Masvidal is able to get up late, but that's a clear round for Covington. Masvidal has his hands over his head going back to the corner after. Keep an eye on his gas tank. 29-28 after three for Covington.
Round 4: What a round. Covington is running away with it early, smothering Masvidal against the fence. Wearing him down. Unloading combinations. Masvidal looks like he's wilting, then Masvidal lands a piston of a right hand to knock Covington down to a knee. Covington recovered, but he was hurt. 10-9 Covington. 39-37 overall.
Round 5: Covington puts a stamp on it. Takes Masvidal down and ground and pounds in the fifth. Finishes it off yelling at Masvidal, who is on his back. Blows him a kiss after the final bell sounds. 10-9 Covington, 49-46 overall Covington.
Final result: Covington def. Masvidal via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-44, 50-45)
Full results of UFC 272
Lightweight: Rafael dos Anjos (31-13, 20-11 UFC) def. Renato Moicano (16-5-1, 8-5 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
The former lightweight champion took a strange route to UFC 272, but ultimately turned in a dominant performance over Moicano.
Dos Anjos, of Brazil, nearly finished the fight in the third round with a left head kick. The kick knocked Moicano down and dos Anjos followed him to the ground with hammerfists. Referee Marc Goddard took a close look at the action, but Moicano eventually regained his guard and survived.
All three judges scored it for dos Anjos, 50-44, 49-45 and 49-44.
Dos Anjos was initially scheduled to face Rafael Fiziev in a five-round main event on Feb. 19. The bout was postponed to Saturday, when visa issues prevented Fiziev, of Kyrgyzstan, from entering the U.S. last month. It was then scrapped entirely this week when Fiziev contracted Covid-19.
Moicano, who just fought at UFC 271 last month, agreed to step in for Fiziev on just four days' notice, at a 160-pound catchweight. Moicano did what he could, but was obviously in over his head. Dos Anjos easily out-maneuvered him on the ground the majority of the fight and busted him up on the feet.
"Thank you Moicano, Dana White, and the UFC for making the fight happen," dos Anjos said. "A lot of people ran away. Moicano took the fight. Impressive. Five rounds, on five days' notice. It was hard for me, too. I trained to fight Fiziev. He is a muay Thai fighter. Moicano has excellent ground game."
According to unofficial UFC Stats, dos Anjos out-landed Moicano in total strikes 179 to 81, and converted five takedowns to none for Moicano. Still, the 32-year-old Moicano somehow finished the fight with momentum on his side, as he clipped dos Anjos with boxing combinations and had him hurt in the final seconds.
Moicano's face was a bloody mess at the end of 25 minutes. Cageside physicians checked his left eye, nearly swollen shut, after the third round and again after the fourth. Moicano has been finished in all of his professional losses, but showed tremendous heart and durability on Saturday.
With the win, dos Anjos is now 2-0 since returning to the lightweight division from welterweight. Moicano sees a two-fight win streak snapped.
Men's featherweight: Bryce Mitchell (15-1, 6-0 UFC) def. Edson Barboza (22-11, 16-11 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
When he absorbed lower leg kick after lower leg kick early on from Barboza, who has spent a career specializing in hurting opponents with kicks, it appeared clear that Mitchell needed to get the fight to the canvas. So he did - not with a takedown, though, but with a straight left hand that dropped his slick-striking opponent.
And so began a dominant beatdown that resulted in Mitchell's sixth straight win in the UFC. Only the men's featherweight champ, Alexander Volkanovski, and contender Arnold Allen have longer winning streaks at 145 pounds, and they've both won eight in a row.
Mitchell, 27 and from Searcy, Arkansas, kept Barboza on his back for nearly all of the fight after the knockdown. In Round 2, he got his takedown just 20 seconds in. He needed a full minute to get Barboza to the canvas in the final round, but once there, he delivered a beatdown all the way to the horn.
All three judges saw the fight for Mitchell, of course, by scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27.
Barboza, a 36-year-old Brazilian, has lost two in a row and five of his last seven.
Welterweight: Kevin Holland (22-7 1 NC, 9-4 1 NC UFC) def. Alex Oliveira (22-12-2 2 NC, 11-10 1 NC UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
The UFC announcers think Kevin Holland is about to be submitted, but Holland gives a thumbs up to the camera and the fans.
That decision to move down to 170 pounds looks pretty good right now.
Holland caught Oliveira with a right hand and then poured it on with ground and pound to finish at 38 seconds of the second round. The crowd went crazy for the fan favorite's finish.
Oliveira, nicknamed "Cowboy," dipped his head to evade an attack, but Holland caught him with a sneaky right hook, dropping Oliveira. With Oliveira on the mat, Holland pounced, landing big punches and elbows until referee Chris Tognoni pulled him off.
Afterward, Holland teased a challenge to Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, who was in attendance."Honestly, I don't know exactly who I want next," Holland said in his postfight interview. "I just took out one Cowboy. I'd hate to call out another."
Oliveira had a solid first round, and he took Holland down twice with big takedowns and landed some hard right hands. Holland had moments, too, but said he "started off a little flat" in his debut at welterweight.
Holland, 29, was winless in three straight fights at middleweight coming in. The Texas native had a monster 2020, winning five fights, tying the record for the most victories in one calendar year in UFC history. Oliveira, a 34-year-old Brazilian, has dropped four in a row.
Heavyweight: Serghei Spivac (14-3, 5-3 UFC) def. Greg Hardy (7-5 1 NC, 4-5 1 NC UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
If the 'Greg Hardy does MMA' experiment isn't dead yet, it's certainly on life support at this point.
Hardy, 33, didn't last long against Moldovan heavyweight Sergey Spivak on Saturday, as Spivak took him down multiple times in the opening round and finished the bout with strikes at the 2:16 mark. Hardy fell to 4-5 in the UFC with the loss and 0-3 in his last three bouts.
A former defensive lineman in the NFL who transitioned to MMA in 2017, Hardy has struggled to be competitive as his UFC career continues to play out. He got into the UFC very early in his career and showed promising raw talent, but he's been unable to make up for holes in his wrestling and cardio.
That was the case again here, as Spivak took Hardy down, patiently stayed on him as he tried to get up, and ultimately moved to side mount for the finish. Hardy has been finished in all three of his recent losses. Spivak is now 4-1 in his last five, but he did not go into this weekend ranked inside the Top 15.
Lightweight: Jalin Turner (12-5, 5-2 UFC) def. Jamie Mullarkey (14-5, 2-3 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
Jalin Turner wins the UFC 272 featured prelim fight of the night over Jamie Mullarkey.
Was there anyone at T-Mobile Arena who was as relaxed as Turner?
When he hurt Mullarkey early in the first round, he didn't rush in. When he bloodied Mullarkey's nose a minute later, Turner didn't turn it on. And when he was taken down with a minute to go in the round, he calmly tied up Mullarkey to avoid taking punishment until the horn.
Then Turner came out for Round 2 and calmly connected with a short right hand that dropped Mullarkey. It was only then that Turner swarmed with a frenzy, dropping punches until the fight was waved off at 46 seconds.
"I'm just composed everywhere. Wherever the fight goes, I'm good," Turner said after winning his fourth fight in a row. "He took me down -- didn't stress it. I said. 'I'm just gonna grind this out. Next round starts on the feet. Let's do it.'"
Turner, who is 26 and fights out of Fontana, California, has finishes within two rounds in all four wins in his streak. Mullarkey, a 27-year-old Australian, showed toughness in fighting through a beating in the first round, but in the end he saw a two-fight winning streak come to an end.
Strawweight: Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2, 6-1-2 UFC) def. Yan Xiaonan (13-3, 6-2 UFC) by split decision (Watch on ESPN+)
There was a lot of swinging and missing on big punches early on in the fight for Rodriguez. But she made adjustments in the latter half of the bout, mixing in elbows, to pick up the biggest victory of her career.
Rodriguez beat Yan via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a critical bout in the UFC's 115-pound division. The fight went back and forth, and it was razor close. Even a Yan win wouldn't have been controversial. But Rodriguez seemed to do enough late, landing elbows and knees to the body out of a Thai clinch.
Coming in, ESPN had Rodriguez ranked No. 4 and Yan at No. 5 in the world at strawweight. "Now you know, now everyone knows I'm ready for the belt," Rodriguez said in her post-fight interview. "I'm next. I want to be the new champ."
She'll likely have to wait until champion Rose Namajunas defends next against top contender Carla Esparza. Rodriguez might have put herself in position to be next in line against Esparza, but she may have to win one more.
Rodriguez, 34, has won four straight after falling to Esparza via split decision in July 2020. The 34-year-old Brazil native has a 6-1-1 overall record in the UFC. Yan, a 32-year-old China native, has dropped two in a row but doesn't feel too far off the elite in the strawweight division. She spent her entire training camp at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California, for the first time.
Light heavyweight: Nicolae Negumereanu (12-1, 3-1 UFC) def. Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-3, 3-3 UFC) by split decision (Watch on ESPN+)
It was a slow, tedious contest at first -- but the action eventually picked up dramatically between Negumereanu and Nzechukwu.
The Las Vegas crowd booed throughout the opening round, as Nzechukwu looked to circle away from Negumereanu and land long front kicks to the body and counter left hands. Negumereanu refused to pursue him aggressively, however, leading to long periods of inactivity by both.
Eventually, Negumereanu knew he needed to press and walked Nzechukwu down with offense. Nzechukwu responded with counter shots, although some of Negumereanu's strikes got through. It resulted in mixed scores, as two judges had it for Negumereanu 29-27, while a third saw it 29-27 Nzechukwu.
Nzechukwu, of Dallas, was docked a point in the third round for an accidental eye poke. Referee Mark Smith warned Nzechukwu for the same offense in the first round, so a point deduction seemed appropriate. According to unofficial UFC Stats, however, Nzechukwu out-landed Negumereanu in total strikes 80 to 59, and bloodied the Romanian's nose badly in the second round.
Nzechukwu has now lost two in a row and falls to 3-3 in the UFC. Negumereanu improves to 3-1.
Women's flyweight: Maryna Moroz (11-3, 6-3 UFC) def. Mariya Agapova (10-3, 2-1 UFC) by submission (Watch on ESPN+)
Ukranian native Maryna Moroz submits Mariya Agapova during the prelims of UFC 272.
The arena was far from filled for the prelims, but early-arriving fans made a lot of noise cheering at the introduction of Moroz, the only Ukrainian woman on the UFC roster. Then she put on a performance worthy of these cheers and more.
This fight pitted former training partners who've turned into bitter rivals. (Sound familiar?) Agapova was the betting favorite, and she made sure her former gym mate knew that during the leadup to the fight. But Moroz thoroughly dominated her before ending the fight with a head-and-arm choke at 3:27 of Round 2.
Moroz, 30, who had not competed in two years because of injury and visa complications, wasted no time in taking full control, putting Agapova on the canvas early in Round 1 and nearly choking her out. She lost position and had to withstand a brief Agapova rally late in the round. But Moroz opened the second round the same way, taking the fight to the canvas, unleashing punches from top position and ultimately sinking in the choke that secured her third straight victory.
Afterward, she tearfully spoke of how her family is "in a bad situation" back home in Ukraine, as the crowd roared its support for her.
Agapova, 24 and from Kazakhstan, has lost two of three fights after winning nine of her first 10.
Men's featherweight: Umar Nurmagomedov (14-0, 2-0 UFC) def. Brian Kelleher (24-13, 8-6 UFC) by submission (Watch on ESPN+)
Umar Nurmagomedov, cousin of Khabib, wins one of his toughest contests yet in a bout vs. Brian Kelleher.
Umar Nurmagomedov is known as more of a striker than his cousin Khabib, one of the best MMA fighters of all time. But like most Dagestan products, Nurmagomedov can grapple quite well, too.
The undefeated Nurmagomedov was able to get Kelleher down, win a scramble and take Kelleher's back before sinking in a rear-naked choke. The finish came at 3:15 of the first round. The bout was contested at featherweight because Kelleher came in on short notice. Nurmagomedov said afterward he'll continue his career at bantamweight.
"He's a strong fighter, and I'm very happy that I got a win," Nurmagomedov said.
Nurmagomedov, who had Khabib in his corner, added that he's ready to fight next week if the UFC needed him.
Nurmagomedov, 26, is now 2-0 in the UFC, both victories via rear-naked choke finish. He has four submission finishes in his last five fights. Kelleher, a 35-year-old New York native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.
Men's flyweight: Tim Elliott (19-12-1, 7-10 UFC) def. Tagir Ulanbekov (14-2, 2-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Elliott, of Missouri, has seen his share of highs and lows in a UFC career that dates back to 2012, and Saturday night will undoubtedly go down as one of the highs.
Elliott, 35, upset Ulanbekov, of Dagestan, via unanimous 29-28 judges' scores. The veteran flyweight was a relatively significant underdog to Ulanbekov, who went into the bout with a UFC record of 2-0.
Fighting under the tutelage of retired legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, Ulanbekov looked lost against Elliott at times, especially in the first and second rounds. Elliott dropped Ulanbekov with an overhand left in the opening round and consistently out-worked him in grappling positions.
Ulanbekov managed to take Elliott's back in the final 90 seconds of the fight after cinching himself to Elliott's waist on the feet. It was a bad spot for Elliott, but he calmly thwarted Ulanbekov's attempts at a rear-naked choke and held on for the unanimous decision.
Elliott is now 3-1 in his last four, after dropping three in a row at one point in 2020.
Lightweight: Ludovit Klein (18-4, 2-2 UFC) def. Devonte Smith (11-4, 3-3 UFC) by majority decision (Watch on ESPN+)
This might end up being the biggest upset of the night: The fight went the distance. For Smith, it was the first time in 15 career bouts that he heard scorecards announced. For Klein, it was just his third decision in 22 fights.
Klein, who was booked for this bout as a late replacement just eight days ago, did not wilt as the rounds went on. That was partly because he smartly slowed the pace by keeping Smith locked in a clinch for extended periods.
When Klein did throw punches, they were straight and accurate, landing at a 63% clip. However, his best work might have been within a straight kick in Round 3 that sent Smith moving backward, indicating he was hurt. But he survived and went on the attack himself down the stretch.
But it was too little, too late in the eyes of two judges. While there were 29-28 scorecards for each fighter, judge Sal D'Amato turned in a 30-27 card for Klein.
Klein, a 27-year-old from Slovakia, ended a two-fight losing streak. Smith, 28 and from Cleveland, has lost three of four since starting his career 10-1.
Light heavyweight: Dustin Jacoby (17-5-1, 5-2-1 UFC) def. Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5 1 NC, 4-3 1 NC UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
After an eight-year absence from the UFC, Jacoby has quietly put together one of the better recent runs in the light heavyweight division.
Jacoby outlasted Oleksiejczuk by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in a back-and-forth battle Saturday night to lead off UFC 272. Jacoby, an accomplished kickboxer, said afterward that he had to turn the bout into a boxing match, because he injured both legs and foot in training.
Oleksiejczuk had a strong first round, pressuring Jacoby with his southpaw striking. Jacoby made adjustments in the second, pressuring himself and dropping Oleksiejczuk with a punching combination and a knee. In the third, both men were clearly tired -- Jacoby said he couldn't do much cardio due to the injuries -- but Jacoby did just enough to edge out the victory, switching to southpaw and landing solid jabs and an elbow.
Jacoby, 33, is unbeaten in eight straight fights, including his last five in the UFC. The 33-year-old Colorado native has won three straight. Oleksiejczuk, a 27-year-old Poland native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.