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Kamaru Usman had one more gear than Colby Covington.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” kept his stranglehold on the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division, as he buried Covington with punches in the fifth round of their UFC 245 headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Covington (15-2, 10-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:10 into Round 5, as he tasted defeat for the first time in more than four years.
Usman (16-1, 11-0 UFC) had to work hard to defend the mountain. Covington raced out to a strong start behind volume punching combinations, often punctuated by powerful rolling overhand lefts. Usman answered by going to the body and began to turn the tide in Round 3, where he withstood an inadvertent eye poke and appeared to break the challenger’s jaw with a devastating right hand. They went to the fifth round with the outcome still in doubt. In the closing minute, Usman dropped the American Top Team export with another straight right, denied a desperation takedown and closed the door with a burst of unanswered hammerfists.
The 32-year-old Usman will carry a 15-fight winning streak into his next title defense.
Volkanovski Ends Holloway Reign
Alexander Volkanovski leaned on crushing leg kicks and power punching combinations, as he captured the UFC featherweight crown with a unanimous decision over Max Holloway in the five-round co-main event. The Australian swept the scorecards with 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 marks from the judges, ending Holloway’s 922-day reign atop the 145-pound weight class.
Volkanovski (21-1, 8-0 UFC) never once deviated from his game plan. He shredded Holloway’s base with kicks to the upper and lower leg, forcing him to switch from orthodox to southpaw. Holloway (21-5, 17-5 UFC) fought well in spurts—he occasionally doubled up on his jab and connected with hooks to the body—but ran into an opponent who was unwilling to back down. Volkanovski kept the Hawaiian’s patented multi-punch volleys to a minimum, fought fire with fire when the situation called for it and emerged as the fourth undisputed featherweight champion in UFC history.
The 31-year-old Volkanovski has recorded 18 consecutive victories.
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Nunes Denies de Randamie in Rematch
Amanda Nunes retained the undisputed UFC women’s bantamweight championship with a five-round unanimous decision over Germaine de Randamie in the first of three title fights. Nunes (19-4, 12-1 UFC), who also defeated the Dutch kickboxer in their first meeting back in 2013, carried all three scorecards: 49-44, 49-46 and 49-45.
De Randamie (9-4, 6-2 UFC) had her moments, particularly in the second round, where she buzzed the champion with a head kick and had her reeling with multiple knee strikes from the clinch. It was not nearly enough. Nunes struck for takedowns in all five rounds and applied her ground-and-pound with varying degrees of intensity. Outside of a few upkicks—one of them appeared to stun the “Lioness” in the third round—and a Hail Mary attempt at a triangle choke, de Randamie had no answer for the Brazilian’s ground offensive. Nunes executed her final takedown 15 seconds into the fifth round, fought through fatigue and spent more than four minutes piling up points from top position.
The 31-year-old Nunes has won 10 fights in a row.
Split Verdict Favors Moraes
Former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes won for the fifth time in six fights, as he eked out a contentious split decision over Jose Aldo in a three-round bantamweight feature. All three judges struck 29-28 scorecards, two of them siding with “Magic Marlon.”
Moraes (23-6-1, 5-2 UFC) dazed the Nova Uniao star with a head kick inside the first 20 seconds and landed with power and purpose throughout the first round before executing a late takedown. Aldo (28-6, 10-5 UFC) came to life in Round 2, where he connected with a brutal left hook to the body, snapped back his counterpart’s head with an uppercut and applied maximum pressure, cutting off the cage with superior footwork. The final five minutes were hotly contested, as Moraes continued to fight off his back foot in the face of his oncoming fellow Brazilian. However, he bounced back in the last half of the round, cracked Aldo with a right hand, a lunging left and a crisp left hook-right hook combination.
Aldo has suffered back-to-back defeats for just the second time in his 34-fight career.
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Ascending Yan Tortures Faber
Former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder Petr Yan brought down Team Alpha Male patriarch Urijah Faber with a head kick in the third round of their bantamweight showcase. Faber (35-11, 11-7 UFC) bit the dust 43 seconds into Round 3, his modest two-fight winning streak at an end.
After a somewhat-tepid first round, Yan (14-1, 6-0 UFC) went about systematically dismantling the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion. He sat down Faber with an exquisite three-punch combination in the middle stanza, reset and floored him again with a short standing elbow. The impact of the strike not only dropped “The California Kid” but left him with severe damage to his left eye. Still, he survived to see a third round. There, Yan walked down the 40-year-old with punches and, with a minimal amount of space, unfurled the fight-ending kick inside the first minute.
Yan, 26, has rattled off nine straight victories and appears poised to challenge the best of the best at 135 pounds in 2020.
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