We have been waiting for news on the UFC welterweight title for weeks now, and it finally seems like we have something to go off of. UFC president Dana White commented on the current title situation at 170lbs in an interview with MMAjunkie.com, and here are my thoughts on what White said in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Kamaru Usman Will Fight For Title At UFC 235
According to White, the recent bout agreement that Usman tweeted was in fact real, and the UFC president confirmed to MMAjunkie that Usman will be fighting for the title at UFC 235, which takes place March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The welterweight title bout — regardless of who Usman faces — is likely to serve as the main event of the evening, with an intriguing welterweight fight between Nick Diaz and Jorge Masvidal likely to be the co-main event.
White told reporter John Morgan that the UFC wants to book Usman against Tyron Woodley in the main event, but the UFC has had a lot of trouble getting Woodley to sign on the dotted line for whatever reason. Woodley himself tweeted that he still wants to fight Colby Covington, but it seems like Covington is going to be passed over in favor of Usman. The UFC believes they already gave Covington a chance to fight for the belt at UFC 228 before he passed on the opportunity due to a nose injury, and Darren Till ended up fighting Woodley for the title instead, with the champion defending his belt via submission. The UFC wanted to book Covington against Woodley as the main event of UFC 233, but Woodley wasn’t cleared to fight due to an injured hand, and in the meantime Usman had a dominant performance against Rafael dos Anjos at the TUF Finale that boosted his stock past Covington in the eyes of White. Even though Covington was the interim champ after beating RDA at UFC 225, it seems like the UFC has stripped him and for whatever reason believes Usman should be the guy getting the next title shot.
To me, the UFC going to the media and making a comment about this situation is only to put pressure on Woodley to accept the fight with Covington. At this point, I believe it’s fair to say Usman has bypassed Covington for the belt. Even though Woodley wants to fight Covington and that’s the fight most fans seem to want, the power of Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz is looming large here. MMA’s most powerful manager has secured numerous of his clients title shots even when there is someone more deserving, and it looks like this might happen again if Usman indeed bypasses Covington. Although Usman’s nine-fght win steak is extremely impressive, it seems unfair to Covington that he would get passed over for a title fight when he was crowned the interim champ just a couple of months ago and is on a seven-fight win streak himself. But when the UFC is a promotion that doesn’t even inform its fighters UFC 232 is being moved to a different city, nothing it does should surprise anyone anymore. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but I’d expect the UFC to make an announcement for the UFC 235 main event within the next week.