Kamaru Usman praises Colby Covington and compares rivalry to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier

Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington rivalry compared to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier

Kamaru Usman has revealed that he has nothing but 'respect' for Colby Covington as a competitor, comparing their rivalry to that of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. 

Usman, 34, won a unanimous decision in a rematch against former interim titleholder Covington to defend his welterweight championship at UFC 268 on Saturday night. 

Both fighters had their moments as they left it all in the Octagon at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

Covington was dropped TWICE in the second round and it looked like the fight would be stopped at any moment. 

But the American battled back valiantly to sting Usman temporarily in an incredible third round.

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Covington then caught Usman again in the fourth round prompting some to question whether a remarkable comeback could be on the cards. 

But when Usman turned on the offensive in the fifth round the game was over and his status was secured as the best 170-pounder on the planet. 

“It’s very, very hard not to get crazy when you hurt someone like that,” Usman said in his post-fight press conference.

“But I know he did his homework. He went to a good team. Those guys at MMA Masters are good coaches and they prepared him well.

"He stayed very poised and very controlled. That’s why he didn’t try to get crazy 'cause I would have found the shot and put him away.

"Like I said, as a competitor, I respect him. That’s the next best guy in the division."

Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington by unanimous decision

When asked if he was surprised that Covington somehow managed to get back to his feet, he replied: "It didn’t surprise me. He’s a great competitor. I know this. We both knew that. It didn’t surprise me.

"That’s why I had to stay poised, just listen to my coaches 'cause I really wanted to get him out of there. Once I start feeling like a giant in there, I’m like a tank and I want to just get him out of there.

"But I understand in this game it’s about using your mental cause we’re both physically adequate and we’re prepared. I stayed composed and got the job done.”

And while some people may not like Covington's public persona, Usman insists that 'you have to respect him as a competitor'. 

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Usman continued: “This guy’s tough as nails. This guy’s very, very tough. Let’s be honest, [Muhammad] Ali needed a [Joe] Frazier.

"All these guys, you can be the great one but there’s always going to be that one guy that’s going to be able to push you and he is that guy.

“As much of him outside the octagon that most people don’t like, myself included, you have to respect him as a competitor.”

READ MORE: Kamaru Usman is 'the greatest welterweight of all time' ahead of Georges St-Pierre and Tyron Woodley

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