UFC 268 was an incredible card top to bottom, headlined by two title fights that lived up to the hype and more. In the main event, Kamaru Usman edged Colby Covington in another gruelling war. The co-main between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili was another banger, with Namajunas defeating Weili via razor thin split decision.
Elsewhere on the card, Marlon Vera defeated the legendary Frankie Edgar via a crushing front kick. Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler in an unforgettable fight of the year candidate.
You can find our live, blow-by-blow reactions to UFC 268 below.
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
Usman has looked unstoppable in the UFC, but the closest he ever looked to being vulnerable was against Colby Covington. This is a rematch and, in their first fight, the scorecards were incredibly close until Usman knocked Covington out in the fifth and final round.
Usman has looked much improved since that fight. Covington has been a little less active and it's for that reason that I'm picking Usman in this rematch. Can't wait to see how this plays out.
Quick note -- regardless of your thoughts on Covington, you can't deny coming out to Kurt Angle's music is an all-time perfect heel move. I love it so much.
Alright... here we go!
Covington isn't throwing much early, which is strange, because his best shot with this fight is volume. Maybe wrestling is the plan for him this time round and YEP! He goes for the shot, which is defended.
Covington looks a little shook by that exchange to be honest. Usman is pressuring and cutting the cage well here.
And whoa... Usman gets a quick takedown, but Covington gets up quickly.
I score this round 10-9 for Usman.
I think the power difference could be a huge factor here. Usman doesn't really have to respect Covington's shots, but the reverse isn't true.
The pace of this fight is much slower which, again, suits Usman. This isn't looking great for Covington and you can see the confidence draining. The body shots are big for Usman as well.
Already we're seeing Covington running out of options here.
Whoa! Usman catches Covington clean and drops him! Then clips him straight away dropping him twice. Somehow Covington survives the round. That's very close to a 10-8 round. One more minute in that round and Covington would have been toast.
I score this round 10-9 for Usman.
Covington seems to have recovered and actually lands a big shot on Usman. Still, he's being stalked and pressured by Usman, who is landing his jab at will.
Colby shoots, but Usman is extremely wise to it. I don't think a welterweight alive could take Usman down at this point.
This is easily Covington's best round though. At the end of the round he lands some big shots and potentially steals the round. I'm still scoring it for Usman.
I score this round 10-9 for Usman.
Colby is switching up to the strategy he used in the first fight. Throwing more volume, throwing with mean intentions. He's finding more success!
He is landing hard and clean here, but Usman seems unphased.
This fourth round looks a LOT like the first fight, which is good for Covington. He's coming on strong here. This is getting really interesting.
I score this round 10-9 for Covington.
Oh man, Covington is landing here, but he shoots and has it stuffed, which may have actually saved Usman.
Usman now back in control it seems but this is a tight round. I think Covington really wants to secure this fight with a takedown, but it's not there. He still hasn't really hurt Usman yet.
Ah damn, there's an eye poke right at the end there. That really takes the sting out of the last 30 seconds of the fight. Which is super weird.
Very tight round but...
I score this round 10-9 for Usman. (49-46 for Usman overall).
The judges have 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for Usman.
Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili
I think this is, personally, my most anticipated fight on the card. Mainly because I don't feel like we really got to see this match-up play out in the first fight. It's a real toss-up for me. Namajunas is the slickest striker in her division, but Weili has incredible power and physicality. Traditionally, that's been tricky for Namajunas to navigate -- and when you consider Weili seems to have been training her wrestling for this contest, we could have a real fight on our hands here.
I'm picking Weili. Just have a wee feeling she'll take it. I'm so hyped for this one.
Loved Namajunas walking to the cage with the "I'm the best" mantra. Big Diego Sachez vibes there.
The crown booing Weili heavy. We know she doesn't like that.
Weili opens with three leg kicks. Bouncing on her toes. Weili seems tentative, but gets a takedown. Had a feeling this might happen since she's been training with Henry Cejudo. Weili now on top and in control. She's landing big shots from on top here.
Rose scrambles back to her feet. Weili lands a good headkick but Weili seems tentative in there.
I score it 10-9 for Weili.
Namajunas' corner want her to wait for Weili to come to here, which is great advice to be honest. I get the feeling the Weili could potentially take Namajunas down at will with the strength advantage. Have to see how this plays out.
This is a tentative round for both fighters. Weili is throwing that leg kick a lot, Namajunas can't take too many of those. Ooft, Weili cracks Namajunas clean and now she's on her back after a takedown. Namajunas lands an upkick, but Weili is on top now and she's -- again -- winning this round.
Now Rose gets the takedown! Fascinating contest.
I score it 10-9 for Weili.
Not much happening here, but Rose just looks much calmer in there. Tough to score this round, but the leg kicks are money for Weili. I think Rose should throw some her own. I think Weili slipped, but the crowd sold it. They're in the clinch now.
They break and Namajunas is much more aggressive now but Weili cracks her with a left hook. Now she lands a takedown that'll probably steal the round. She finishes in full mount.
I score it 10-9 for Weili.
Both fighters are opening up now, landing shots. Great start to the round for both fighters.
Now Weili has her back, trying to get hooks in for a rear naked choke. Namajunas reverses! Now she's in Weili's guard. Crazy scrambles here. This is the fight I was hoping to see. Amazing stuff.
Rose finishes the round on top. It'll be interesting to see who comes out with more energy in the fifth and final round.
I score it 10-9 for Namajunas.
I have it 3-1 Weili, but there's a real chance it's 2-2. This is a high stakes round.
This is down to who wants it more. Cliche, but true in this case.
MASSSIIVE TAKEDOWN from Rose. With both fighters tired, Rose might be able to keep the fight here for the whole round. Weili absolutely needs to get up, she can't accept this position.
But Weili looks like she doesn't have the energy to get back up. The fight ends with Rose on top.
I score it 10-9 for Namajunas. (48-47 for Weili).
I reckon the judges will score this differently. Keen to see the cards...
The judges scored it 49-46, 48-47, 47-48.
Frankie Edgar vs. Marlon Vera
This one is just great matchmaking. Former UFC lightweight champ Edgar is a legend of MMA and Vera is a star on the rise. This one is a real clash of styles: Vera is a technical slugger with an iron chin, Edgar is the type to mix slick takedowns in with his striking.
The safe money is on Edgar grinding this one out over three rounds, but we have seen Edgar suffer devastating knockouts in recent fights. This one's a bit of a toss-up. I'm picking Edgar.
A stat popped up showing that Edgar has the most fight time of anyone in UFC history -- almost 8 hours. Wild.
Being 40 years old in the lighter weight division is just such an achievement. What a legend Edgar is.
Good sign for Vera, who stuffs the first shot from Frankie. Wild that Edgar used to the champ two weight classes above, but looks so much smaller than Vera.
Edgar gets him down with a blast double, into a choke from Vera, but Edgar gets out quick. This is how he wins this fight, with top control and pressure. This could be bad for Vera. He's bang in the middle of the cage and could be here for the rest of the round.
Vera is defending well from the bottom here, and lands a few nice upkicks, but he's losing this round.
I score this 10-9 for Edgar.
The fight starts standing obviously, which favors Vera, but Edgar gets him down early. We've already seen he doesn't have much for Edgar on the ground. He could -- again -- very well grind this round out from this position.
This is vintage Edgar here. You love to see it.
But wait -- Vera scrambles to his feet. Great work by Vera. He's marching forward now desperate to land shots and win this round. He lands a huge knee of Edgar. He lands another that has Edgar stumbling. Remember it was a knee from Cory Sandhagen that took Edgar clean out in his last fight.
Vera is gathering confidence here. He's winning this round.
Edgar looks in bad shape as he goes back to his corner.
I score this 10-9 for Vera
You get the sense that a takedown is very important for Edgar here. Vera has the advantage on the feet here, and Edgar's chin isn't what it used to be.
Edgar's shots just aren't hitting hard enough to earn respect here. He needs a shot ASAP. He almost gets him down at some point and then bam, Vera is straight back up.
Then BAM. A massive Anderson Silva-esque front kick straight up the middle takes Edgar out clean. This fight is over. Edgar is protesting the stoppage, but no way -- he was out 100%. Incredible shot by Vera.
Vera wins by TKO.
This has to be a tough one for Edgar to take. At 40 years old, you have to imagine there's not too many fights left for this guy. The chin isn't what it used to be and it's tough to keep facing down these young killers.
Shane Burgos vs. Billy Quarantillo
Alright, time to take a breather.
Lol whatever, Shane Burgos is fighting.
This is the lowest profile fight on this stacked card, but both Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo are known for all action fights. Hard to expect this playing out any other way. This one is a real coin toss, but I'm taking Burgos. He hits harder and maintains a powerful pace.
Quarantillo comes out pressuring, trying to make this ugly with dirty boxing and tight uppercuts.
Burgos wrestles him to the cage, attempting to wear Quarantillo out.
On the feet this feels even, but Burgos is landing harder shots. They're slugging it out in the pocket now and Quarantillo shoots for the takedown. Great round of action here. Everything pales in comparison to Gaethje vs. Chandler, but this is good stuff.
I score it 10-9 for Quarantillo
Both fighters come out trading big shots. Quarantillo will not stop marching forward. It's clearly the gameplan to keep Burgos on the backfoot.
Quarantillo could very well win the fight on volume alone.
This round is so hard to score, they're just landing on one another and not stopping. The leg kicks are starting to add up.
But Quarantillo gets hurt by a clean right hand shot by Burgos and now he's getting swarmed. He makes it to the end, but that's definitely a Burgos round.
I score it 10-9 for Burgos
As the commentary mentioned, Quarantillo's leg is in bad shape. That's making it easier for Burgos to land shots.
Damn the leg is worse than I thought. This could be bad for Quarantillo. He goes to the clinch to try and negate it, but a couple of clean leg kicks and this fight could be over.
Quarantillo is surviving, trying to get close Burgos is fatiguing. This has been another tremendous fight.
I score it 10-9 for Burgos (29-28 Burgos overall)
Let's see how the judges have it...
Yep, all three judges agree with me. Incredible fight with a ridiculous output from both men.
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler
Apparently this fight was bumped to the card opener because Gaethje's coach Trevor Wittman needed time between this fight and the fight of his other student Rose Namajunas.
Either way, what a way to open this card. I am beyond hyped for this fight. Two massive hitters who like to go forward. I favour Gaethje because he's arguably the most effective leg kicker in MMA and Chandler has struggled historically with leg kicks. That said -- Chandler can put your lights out anytime with that huge overhand he likes to wing.
Can't wait for this one. The only guarantee is one of these guys is doing a backflip off the cage when they win. Chandler and Gaethje always do that!
Man, what a fight to open with. I am so ridiculously hyped for this. This is absolute car crash territory. The New York crowd is incredibly hot also. Let's goooo.
Man, Chandler is marching forward with bombs here. Gaethje opened with that calf kick. These guys are winging with no defence to speak of and Chandler seems to be getting the best of it. Leg kicks are already appearing to compromise both fighters.
PHEW. Okay pace has slowed down. Breathe.
But Chandler lands HUGE and Gaethje staggers back. Somehow Gaethje recovers and starts throwing back. Now Chandler is struggling. These guys throwing nothing but huge loopy shots trying to kill one another. Wow this fight is exactly as advertised.
These guys are already exhausted but Gaethje looks like he could be fresher going into the 2nd round.
Wow. Just wow.
I score this 10-9 for Chandler
Slower pace here. Obviously. Chandler is fighting smart here with the jab and throwing out kicks. But Gaethje is marching forward now and has lost a bit of pop.
OOOFT. Gaethje lands a HUGE righty hand and Chandler is on his butt. He somehow survives, but Gaethje is on top landing shots from a headlock position. Chandler has survived this onslaught though. Incredible. They're back on their feet. Wow.
Chandler shoots for a takedown -- can you blame him? He lands a big shot but Gaethje just smiles. Gaethje is taking over now.
Weird ending to the round where Chandler lands a huge shot but rakes Gaethje in the eyes.
I score this 10-9 for Gaethje
Those Gaethje leg kicks man. Chandler can't take much more of them. But Chandler has caught a second wind here, he's on his toes and landing shots to the body.
Chandler lands a HUGE takedown, but somehow in the scramble Gaethje got in the better position, landing shots. I cannot tell who is winning here, but in these exchanges Chandler is starting to wilt a little, but who's landed the most shots? How are they scoring this? WHO KNOWS?
What an incredible fight.
I score this 10-9 for Gaethje (29-28 Gaethje overall)