Despite their heated rivalry, even welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is amazed by how similar he and Colby Covington are, at least when it comes to the fight game.
Both fighters are dominant wrestlers who seem to have cardio for days. They both hold wins over similar opponents in Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos. And they both hold a professional record of 15-1. In fact, they have even defeated the fighters who have inflicted losses on their counterparts.
And ahead of their welterweight title showdown at UFC 245 this Saturday, Usman believes a fight like this has never happened in the promotion before.
“I don’t think ever in the history of the UFC have you had numbers stack up,” Usman said on the TSN MMA Show. “Both guys, 15-1. How crazy is it that the one loss, his one loss is to a guy I completely dominated. And my lone loss is the guy he beat.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened. And our numbers are similar.”
However, that’s where the similarities stop for Usman.
Covington is known for his volume and pressure but “The Nigerian Nightmare” claims it will be ineffective against him.
“One thing people don’t seem to understand is how we fight,” Usman explained. “Everyone is saying ‘oh, he’s got cardio for days and he’s got pressure.’ Yeah, it’s easy to throw a thousand punches at a punching bag. But how do you deal with the pressure when you punch at this guy and he hits you back harder.
“… At some point, you’re going to realize ‘damn, I can’t bully this guy like I bully everybody else. … I’ve got to try a different approach.’ And the biggest difference between him and I is my mental approach.”
Usman believes Covington was privileged his whole life while he had to work to get where he is today. That will ultimately prove to be decisive when they lock horns on Saturday.
“I had to work for everything,” Usman added. “For the first two years in my wrestling career in high school, my parents didn’t know what I was doing. I chose to go into wrestling. I chose the hard way. I chose that over football, basketball, all the other sports. I put myself in this position and continue to work and motivate myself.
“So when this fight gets underway, he’s going to realize he’s in there with a different opponent with a different mentality.