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Usman, Namajunas retain titles at knockout-filled UFC 268


Image: ESPN Images

On a night that featured seven fights ending via knockout or TKO, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas both retained their titles in decision wins at UFC 268 at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

Usman defeated Colby Covington (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) by unanimous decision while Namajunas bested Weili Zhang by split decision (49-46, 48-47 for Namajunas, 48-47 for Zhang). Both were rematches.

For Usman, it was his nineteenth straight win with fifteen of those coming in the Octagon where he remains undefeated. This was the fifth defense of the title he won in March 2019, his third this calendar year, and the second over Covington, who has now lost two of his last three.

Usman hit a pair of left hooks in the second round that had Covington hurt, but it was too close to the end of the round for Usman to keep up the attack and go for the finish. Covington started to come on at the end of the third round and it continued in the fourth, gaining confidence as he landed some punches. Usman's face looked unmarked at the end of the fight while Covington was bloodied up early. 

Namajunas defeated Zhang for the title in just 78 seconds this past April, but the two had a much more competitive encounter Saturday with media scores all over the map. Namajunas' takedowns near the end of the fight helped in her favor as she came on late. She now will likely face former champion Carla Esparza next.

The show had six straight finishes by KO/TKO at one point, all on the prelims. Surprisingly, one of those was not Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler which opened the pay-per-view. Gaethje won a unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate.

The only main card finish was Marlon "Chito" Vera finishing Frankie Edgar by third round knockout with a front kick reminiscent of Anderson Silva's famous knockout of Vitor Belfort.