Kamaru Usman finally silenced Colby Covington.
Usman (16-1) retained his Welterweight title in a spectacular main event at UFC 245, delivering the most compelling performance of his career under an incredibly bright spotlight. Covington (15-2) challenged Usman and hit him hard throughout the fight, before Usman reminded the fight world in the fifth round that he remains undisputed as champion among the welterweights. Usman also landed a bone-shattering shot to Covington's face in the third round, potentially breaking his jaw and temporarily putting an end to Covington's incessant trash talk. Incredibly, even if his jaw was broken, Covington continued fighting. Had he been able to withstand Usman's final attack, it is possible that he could have won the judges' decision.
In addition to the Usman-Covington thriller, a new Featherweight champion was crowned when Alexander Volkanovski defeated Max Holloway by unanimous decision. Volkanovski (21-1) changed the entire complexion of the fight with his kicks to Holloway's left leg. With limited mobility, Holloway (21-5) struggled to maintain his customary pace, and Volkanovski seized control and put forth a convincing performance. Moving forward, there should be a chance for these two to run it back in a rematch for the title.
Women's Bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes defeated Germaine de Randamie by unanimous decision. The biggest victory for de Randamie was lasting five full rounds with Nunes (19-4), but she also had a couple different occasions where it looked like she was on the verge of knocking out the seemingly invincible Nunes or even making her tap. But Nunes would not allow de Randamie (9-4) to capitalize for too long, and her takedowns and wrestling allowed her to dominate on the mat.
The most notable controversy of the night took place when Marlon Moraes defeated Jose Aldo by split decision. Aldo looked phenomenal in his bantamweight debut, and it appeared that he had done enough to win the fight via unanimous decision. But the judges saw it differently, despite all of the offensive production and volume from Aldo (28-6). Moraes (23-6-1) did land a significant left switch kick to open the fight, but he had trouble sustaining consistent offense from that point forward. Petr Yan opened the night with a convincing win against Urijah Faber. A bloodied Faber (35-11) refused to quit, somehow masking the pain from the constant attacks to attempt to dish out more offense. But Yan (14-1) was too strong, controlled the Octagon, and never allowed Faber to get comfortable in the cage.
From the opening fight through the main event, UFC 245 did not disappoint. The next big card includes the return of Conor McGregor, but 245 stands alone as one of the UFC's best cards, top to bottom, in 2019. And after enduring endless trash talk from Covington, the story of the night was seeing Usman walk away victoriously, slaying the man who had promised to make mixed martial arts great again. By putting an end to Covington’s dream to become Welterweight champ, Usman placed an exclamation point on a well-rounded, entertaining night of fights.
Kamaru Usman-Colby Covington – 1:50 a.m.
The main event pitting Welterweight champ Kamaru Usman against Colby Covington was an angry fight that earned its place as a UFC headliner.
This was not about points, it was all about landing a knockout. And, after trading strikes for nearly five rounds, Usman finally punched Covington out with only 50 seconds remaining in the fight, winning by TKO.
Usman is now 11-0 in the UFC, and 16-1 overall. It is possible that he could have lost the fight had the decision been turned over to the judges, but he refused to allow it to reach that point. Usman’s performance in the final round was spectacular.
In the opening round, both fighters wanted to spar. No takedowns were registered or even attempted, and neither Usman or Covington worked in their wrestling.
The first two rounds belonged to Covington, and Usman did not find that opening to explode. Covington took an outrageous shot to the jaw in the third round, which, incredibly, was not a turning point in the fight. The two continued to trade power shots in rounds three and four, with both men eating a number of strikes.
The possibility exists for a rematch, but Covington needs to pick up a few important wins in a row before he sees Usman again. Both fighters raised their stock with that performance, especially Usman, who remains the undisputed Welterweight champ.
Max Holloway-Alexander Volkanovski – 12:56 a.m.
The Max Holloway-Alexander Volkanovski fight was a chess match. After five competitive rounds, Volkanovski is the winner and new Featherweight Champion.
Volkanovski won by unanimous decision. Holloway was a tremendous champion, but Volkanovski seized control of that fight in the fifth round. He looked better and worked harder throughout the fight, and now has back-to-back wins over Holloway and Jose Aldo.
Inside low kicks were very effective for Volkanovski, limiting Holloway’s mobility with the damage most noticeable on his left leg. Stripping Holloway of his movement altered the entire fight, giving Volkanovski control and creating a scenario for him to dethrone the champ.
There are now multiple options for Volkanovski as champ. There are enticing matchups against Brian Ortega and Zabit Magomedsharipov, but before anything else, Holloway deserves a rematch for the belt.
Amanda Nunes-Germaine de Randamie – 12:03 a.m.
Amanda Nunes successfully defended her Bantamweight title, defeating Germaine de Randamie by unanimous decision.
de Randamie’s survived until the fifth round, making Nunes look vulnerable at times.
There were moments in this fight that gave Nunes a legitimate scare, but overall, the overwhelming strength and elite grappling ability from Nunes were too much for de Randamie to handle. The fight was also sloppy at times, with de Randamie unable to get off the mat and Nunes unwilling to stand and fight.
Nunes’s win streak has now reached double digits at 10, and the question now is what comes next. Incredibly, there is not a lot left for her. The 145 division is non-existent, and she has cleared out the majority of challengers at 135. Her next opponent is likely to be Irene Aldana, who knocked out Ketlen Vieira during the prelims.
Jose Aldo-Marlon Moraes - 11:14 p.m.
Jose Aldo and Marlon Moraes went the distance, with Moraes picking up a controversial split decision victory from the judges.
While Moraes opened the fight with a beautiful left switch kick, the rest of the fight went to Aldo, who delivered a throwback performance. Aldo looked outstanding in his bantamweight debut, constantly pressuring Moraes and controlling the center of the Octagon.
What were the judges watching? Aldo simply pieced up Moraes. The decision from the judges was a major surprise, but you have to imagine that Moraes’ takedown of Aldo factored into their decision.
A rematch between Moraes and Aldo would be worth seeing, and a Moraes-Yan fight is also a possibility moving forward.
We’re now onto the title fights, with Amanda Nunes defending the Bantamweight title against Germaine de Randamie.
Petr Yan-Urijah Faber - 10:34 p.m.
The opening fight was phenomenal.
43 seconds into round three, Petr Yan defeated Urijah Faber. Yan battered and bruised Faber throughout the fight, but Faber refused to back down. He even picked up a nasty cut on his face from Yan’s face, but it was below the eye so the fight continued. The two fighters talked trash to each other throughout the fight, and the sight of a bloody Faber taunting Yan lit up the crowd.
Yan’s left high kick ended the fight. He now has a nine-fight win streak, and this performance should earn him a title shot against Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo. But Cejudo first needs to defend, or vacate, the Flyweight title.