LAS VEGAS – Kamaru Usman can end this.
If the UFC welterweight champion steps into the octagon on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and lays a decisive beating on Colby Covington, it’s almost inevitable that Covington will fade away a little bit.
You can’t keep being as obnoxious and offensive as Covington has been for the last couple years unless you’re winning fights and can make a legitimate claim to being the top dog.
Usman can finally expose that claim as being false on Saturday night. Maybe then, he can start answering questions about himself instead of being forced to field query after query about Covington, a Twitter troll that’s come to life.
The questions don’t seem to bother Usman much, if we’re being honest about it. His rise has happened to coincide with the Covington’s ascent to the top of the welterweight division. He’s been asked about his opponent on Saturday for years.
And he hasn’t let a few more days of questions ruin his first fight week as a UFC champion.
“When I started out, this was the dream,” Usman said. “This was the goal, this was the plan and we’re here now. I don’t care whether the attention is on me or not, this is what I worked for.”
Usman is easy to root for. He’s proud of his Nigerian heritage, he smiles widely and is articulate and thoughtful when he’s answering questions.
He’s also a hell of a fighter, as he proved emphatically when he systematically picked apart former champion Tyron Woodley to win the UFC’s 170 pounds belt back in early-March.
He reminds you of the sort of person the UFC liked to promote back when it was first breaking into the mainstream in the mid-2000s. He’s the anti-Covington, in so many ways.
A win on Saturday would effectively restrict Covington to also-ran status. He’s too much of a pain for the UFC to fast-track him back to major fights against contenders.
And besides, there’s just too much fun talent at welterweight right now.
Jorge Masvidal is arguably the hottest name in the sport. The UFC would surely love to put him in a title fight.
Leon Edwards has quietly built a world-class resume and is deserving of a big opportunity.
Neither of those are easy fights, but they’re exciting for fans and don’t come with the same lowest-common-denominator baggage the fighting Covington brings.
Jon Jones was on stage on Friday afternoon in Las Vegas to promote his fight with Dominick Reyes that’s set for Feb. 8 in Houston, Texas, and had some strong words about Covington.
The two have a bit of a history, having lived together years ago for a brief spell. Jones was also a target of some of Covington’s weird trash talk a little while back.
With Covington now seeming like he slightly wants to walk back some of his more outlandish behaviour, Jones was asked about Saturday’s welterweight title challenger.
He didn’t mince words.
“Colby is a habitual liar, at the end of the day,” Jones said. “He really is. He told the fans that we lived together for two years. We lived together for one semester.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes and a lot of people don’t consider me to be a good person, but coming from me, Colby is a really bad person. He really is. He really, really is. There’s no coincidence that Tyron Woodley got to know him and hates him. Jorge Masvidal got to know him and hates him. I got to know him and really don’t like him.
“If any of you got to know him, you’d see he really was a rotten person and the MMA community is going to come to see it over the years.”
In the end, Jose Aldo stepped on the scales without issue.
There had been considerable concern about the former featherweight champion’s health as he attempted to shed an extra 10 pounds to fight at bantamweight (135 pounds) for the first time on Saturday.
All along, Aldo had insisted he felt better than he ever had and that there was nothing to worry about.
The fact that he made his target and weighed-in without issue on Friday morning doesn’t necessarily prove that it was a good idea for him to do in the first place, but he’ll be able to fight Marlon Moraes on the main card on Saturday.
In the end, almost all of the fighters scheduled to fight at UFC 245 on Saturday night weighed-in without issue on Friday morning.
The one exception was flyweight fighter Jessica Eye, who missed her targeted weight by 5 lbs. and stepped on the scale at 131 pounds.
Eye will be fined 30% of her show purse by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and that money will go to her opponent, Viviane Araujo.
Otherwise, every other fighter stepped on the scales on-weight and the UFC 245 card will go ahead as previously planned.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019