Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington is the biggest MMA grudge match since McGregor vs. Khabib and will set UFC 272 on fire
UFC stars Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington will face off tonight in one of the biggest grudge matches in sports history in Las Vegas.
The former best friends will square off in the main event of a stacked UFC 272 card at T-Mobile Arena in a welterweight showdown that many MMA fans never thought would come to fruition.
After all, it was only four years ago that crossover star Masvidal cornered his former roommate in his first UFC title fight.
Their since-severed bond seemed unbreakable when Covington shouted “the two of us against the world, baby” as he embraced Masvidal after his decision victory over Don Hyun Kim in Singapore.
At the time, it truly seemed like the then-American Top Team teammates were destined to be side by side in their respective quests for UFC gold.
But four years after Masvidal backed Covington for his interim welterweight title fight, the former sparring partners are now sworn enemies engaged in a self-proclaimed “blood feud.”
That feud stemmed from Covington allegedly stiffening longtime Masvidal trainer Paulino Hernandez for $12,500 in the summer of 2018.
And it exploded after Covington repeatedly called his former pal “dirt” and “a deadpan dad” in numerous below-the-belt references to his split from his wife.
It seemed unfathomable that the once inseparable duo would ever trade blows inside the octagon after seeing their mighty embrace following Covington’s interim victory over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225.
But that’s exactly what’s going to happen this weekend in a desert showdown in Sin City.
And there won’t be a handshake after they finally dump each other, with Masvidal recently insisting: “I can’t respect him in any way, shape or form.
“Kind of like Ben Askren. I don’t care about Ben Askren. If Ben Askren was in a place and he said something to me, then shit, we can even fight or not.
“If he’s cool, I’ll be cool or we can fight. But with Colby, it will always be – as long as we live – a problem. Just because he mentioned my religion and he mentioned my children. “
The feeling is mutual for the controversial Covington, who told SunSport: “Who wants to bury the hatchet with a criminal, with a thief, with a dirty bastard?
“More of his family loves me than he does. So I’m not going to bury him with that filthy criminal.”
The people of Miami will be looking to prove who the better man is once and for all by ending their feud with a decisive victory.
And the taste of victory at T-Mobile Arena will be further sweetened by the fact that a win will put them back on welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s radar.
But re-entering the title picture is currently an afterthought for the couple, who once confessed to being “best friends.”
The thoughts currently at the forefront of their minds are seek, destroy and humiliate.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the duo, who have both, so far, refused to even consider the thought of defeat.
Such a mindset isn’t uncommon among fighters, though it’s often a window into their mindset when they’re not dealing with the very real prospect of losing.
And unfortunately for Masvidal and Covington, their respective legacies in the sport could very well be defined by the outcome of their grudge match – especially if they lose devastatingly and virally.
One of the worst pitfalls of losing a massive fight is fans forgetting the work of fighters, just ask Daniel Cormier and Conor McGregor.
Along with having to mentally process the fact that they failed, the loser will also have to deal with the ruthless nature of fight fans.
And to top it off, they’ll have to walk around Miami knowing they’ve lost what will forever be known as the Battle of the 305.
The loss will also have significant ramifications for both men’s careers – although MMA vet Masvidal has a lot more to lose in that regard.
Despite signing a lucrative new deal with the UFC this week, Masvidal, 37, is at a career crossroads after back-to-back losses to Usman.
An emphatic win this weekend will breathe new life into his Hall of Fame career, while the loss will spark calls for him to hang up the gloves.
Covington won’t face such calls if he leaves T-Mobile Arena in the loss column – although the loss will add more miles to the already long road he must travel to earn a third crack at the undisputed welterweight gold.
UFC 272’s showpiece fight has all the makings of an absolute classic, especially considering the fighter vs. striker matchup.
This clash of decades-old styles is made even more intriguing by the fact that both men have intimate knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The stage is well and truly set for one of the biggest grudge matches in the history of the premier mixed martial arts promotion.
Let’s just hope it lives up to expectations and doesn’t end up being a wet squib.