Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington was one of the closest title fights in recent history until the former left the judges out of the equation.
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Before Usman finished Covington with strikes in the fifth round of their UFC 245 headliner this past weekend, the three judges had scored the preceding four rounds 3-1 to Usman, 2-2 and 3-1 to Covington.
Had Covington avoided those last two knockdowns that led to the finish, there’s an argument that he may have won the fight especially based on how well he was doing for the majority of the final round.
Stephen Thompson, however, was surprised at how close the fight was in the eyes of two of the judges — he had Usman winning three rounds to one.
“I thought it was a great fight,” Thompson said in a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday. “Kamaru Usman is a great champion. Actually, I was surprised the judges had it as close as it was. From what I saw [of the scorecards], the last round was the deciding factor of who was going to win the fight.
“One judge had him [Covington] winning three rounds. I didn’t see that at all. I had him winning the first round and Kamaru Usman winning the rest.”
While both fighters threw a number of strikes, Thompson felt Usman was landing the more significant shots throughout the fight.
He also heaped particular praise on Usman’s ability to stick to his game plan and not let emotions get the better of him.
“I thought he landed the more powerful shots. I think he landed more,” Thompson explained. “Colby was throwing a lot, but a lot of those were missing or glancing. They weren’t clean shots. Kamaru Usman definitely kept his calm. Everybody thought he was going to go out there and be emotional. That’s how a champion should fight. How he performed Saturday was just epic, amazing. Kept his cool, stayed focused, kept to his game plan, threw a lot of body shots that slowed him down.
“Which I didn’t even think about — because he’s so shredded, you wouldn’t think his body would be a weak point for Colby. And him being a wrestler, using his core a lot for wrestling, you’d think it’d be more conditioned than it was, but those body shots were definitely taking its toll on Covington for sure.”