After a quick exchange of punches to open the final round of the main event at U.F.C. 272, the welterweight contender Colby Covington advanced on Jorge Masvidal, bulldozed him into the fence and dragged him to the canvas.
Some people at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas booed Covington for dampening the action. The U.F.C. sold the bout between Covington, a former star wrestler at Oregon State, and Masvidal, a 37-year-old veteran who graduated from backyard fights in Miami to the sport’s major leagues, as a blood feud. And the pair did deliver action befitting a fight borne of genuine mutual dislike. By the fight’s midpoint, Covington’s ground-and-pound had bloodied Masvidal’s nose, and a Masvidal elbow strike had cut Covington above the left eye.
But it was still a competition, and Covington, 34, enjoyed a massive advantage when the fight went to the mat. So he controlled Masvidal in Round 5 the way he had in the previous four and earned a unanimous decision win.
And the bout was also big business, less because of the stakes than the characters involved. Masvidal was 2-2 in his last four bouts, but he is a reliable action fighter who eagerly indulges in pre-fight trash talk. Covington had lost two of his last three, but he has grown his following since rebranding himself as an outspoken right-wing antihero. Neither fighter entered Saturday as a champion, and each had lost recent challenges for Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title.