The 34-year-old American had not fought since a unanimous decision loss against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 268 in November.
With the win, Covington kept alive his hopes of a trilogy fight with Usman, further solidifying his position as the No1 contender at 170 lbs.
Both fighters had some success on the feet but Covington was able to use his wrestling to effectively neutralise Masvidal on his way to a points victory.
Covington said: “I just took care of Miami Street Trash. Now I’ve got to take care of Louisiana *******.”
After a strong first round for Covington, Masvidal needed to do something to get his attention.
In the second round he landed a slicing elbow which opened up a nasty-looking cut above Covington’s left eye.
With the fight evenly balanced Covington took control in the third round and began raining down blow after blow on Masvidal from full mount right in front of the commentary booth.
Covington largely continued where he left off in the fourth round as he backed Masvidal up against the cage with his relentless forward pressure.
But a short right hand dropped him to the canvas before he swiftly regathered his senses.
Perhaps sensing a shift in momentum Covington raced across the cage to secure another takedown in the fifth and final round.
Covington kept on chipping away at an exhausted Masvidal but could not find a finish as the fight went to the judges’ decision.
After a dominant performance Covington was given a unanimous verdict with scorecards of 49-46, 50-44 and 50-45.
More to follow…
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