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UFC: The Rise of Colby 'Chaos' Covington

From being almost cut by the company, to becoming a major part of the first non-title fight not involving Conor McGregor to headline a UFC pay-per-view in over seven years, we look at the rise of Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington as he takes on Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272.

Of Covington’s last six victories in the UFC, five of those have arrived via Decision.

bet365 have priced ‘Chaos’ at 10/11 to win the grudge match against Jorge Masvidal via Decision or Technical Decision.

Early UFC career

24 months after making his MMA debut, Colby Covington joined the UFC in 2014 with a 5-0 record to his name and a win over Jose Caceres (the only fighter in history to have defeated Kamaru Usman).

‘Chaos’ began his UFC journey with three routine victories, overcoming Wang Anying, Wagner Silva and Mike Pyle in a combined seven rounds before suffering a huge setback on the prelims of UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor where he faced Warlley Alves.

Covington attempted to showcase his wrestling skills early into round one, but found himself locked in a guillotine choke and had no choice but to tap to the Brazilian.

The California-born fighter then took several months away from the spotlight to make some amendments to his game, and that was apparent as he entered a fight with Demian Maia in October 2017 off the back of four straight wins against Jonathan Meunier, Max Griffin, Bryan Barberena and Dong Hyun Kim.

From the outside looking in, all seemed to be going well for a fighter who had a 7-1 record in the UFC and was yet to suffer any real damage inside the Octagon.

This was not set to be the case for Covington.

Shortly before his bout with Maia in São Paulo, the UFC told Covington’s manager at the time, Dan Lambert, that they were not planning on re-signing ‘Chaos’ (regardless of victory at UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida) because of his fighting style and lack of entertainment both inside and outside of the Octagon.

"I’ve never told this story, but before I fought the No. 2 guy in the world, this guy named Demian Maia, in Brazil, they had told my manager Dan Lambert that the UFC weren’t going to re-sign me." Covington said.

Five rounds of unbelievable pace and pressure proved too much for Demian Maia and Covington picked up his fifth straight victory in the UFC.

After defeating Maia in his home country of Brazil, Covington grabbed the mic and changed his career, delivering a viral post-fight speech that prompted Dana White to re-sign the fighter.

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Interim shot in Chicago

‘Chaos’ was gaining momentum in the 170-pounds division and an interim title clash was scheduled with Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 in June 2018.

In his first-ever five-round fight, Covington entered the championship rounds with RDA, smothering his opponent at every turn.

He secured a unanimous-decision win to claim the UFC interim welterweight title and further cemented his rising status within the company.

Title stripping and the start of a personal battle with the champion

After defeating Rafael dos Anjos in Chicago, Covington was next in line to face then-champion, Tyron Woodley at UFC 225 but nasal surgery forced him out of the bout.

Speaking on the situation at the time, Dana White’s message was clear.

"When opportunity is there, answer the door, take it." The UFC President said.

14 months after his last appearance in the Octagon, Colby Covington was about to face veteran Robbie Lawler at UFC on ESPN: Covington vs. Lawler having been stripped of the interim welterweight championship for a lack of activity.

‘Chaos’ eased to yet another unanimous-decision victory (his fifth-straight win via that method) in a fight that all three judges scored a convincing shutout for Covington via scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45.

Although he dominated the fight, it was the aftermath that caught the attention of fans as Covington called out the champion Kamaru Usman in his post-fight interview.

"I didn't buy a ticket to come see me, you bought a ticket to come see me," Covington raged at the crowd as they booed. "So shut up and let me finish my interview. Usman, I don't want to wait until [UFC 244 at] Madison Square Garden in November. We can do it right now. We can do it tonight."

The title shots against The Nigerian Nightmare

It wasn’t to be Madison Square Garden, but Covington was handed his wish in December 2019 as he faced Usman for the welterweight title at UFC 245 in Las Vegas.

Months of back-and-forth between the pair followed and a bitter rivalry was forged by the time the pair met inside the Octagon.

With both fighters heading into the bout with a 15-1 record in MMA, Usman proved too much for Covington as he defeated ‘Chaos’ via TKO with 60 seconds of the final round left.

After the fight, Covington blasted referee Marc Goddard as he felt the bout was stopped prematurely.
"That is the worst decision in the history of the sport."

After his defeat to the Nigerian Nightmare, Covington dusted himself down and silenced another rival in Tyron Woodley in September 2020 earning his first TKO victory in over four years to seal his position as the #1 ranked welterweight heading into a rematch with Kamaru Usman.

In November 2021, Usman and Covington met in the Octagon for a second time and was once again unsuccessful, losing via unanimous-decision. Something that once again proved to be hard to swallow for the challenger.

"I should have won that. It was laser thin again. I honestly thought I had it 3-2. It was very close."

The rivalry with Gamebred

"This is a blood feud. This goes back to a brotherhood. We were eight years together every single day, side by side, couldn't leave each other - best friends.

"Now, we're the biggest bitter enemies. I'm gonna make him pay. I'm gonna make him suffer for backstabbing me."

Those were the words of Colby Covington ahead of UFC 272 in Las Vegas this weekend as he prepares to face former teammate and best friend, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal.

Inseparable on their rise to the UFC, their rivalry began over an alleged unfulfilled payment from Covington to Masvidal’s long-time striking coach, Paulino Hernandez.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Covington spoke about the situation between him, Jorge Masvidal, Paulino Hernandez and American Top Team.

"It’s fake news," ‘Chaos’ said. "Anything Jorge says, it’s a lie. He’s all talk, no walk."

By @danielyates_

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