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UFC 272: 5 Things We Learned

UFC 272

UFC 272
(David Becker/Getty Images)

UFC 272: 5 Things We Learned

The main event of UFC 272 between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal may not have lived up to the hype surrounding it, but it still capped off a great night of fights. There were 13 fights on the card and five ended with a finish while eight went the distance. This event was the third consecutive to be held in Las Vegas, but the first pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena since UFC 269 in December. Here are five things that we learned after UFC 272.

1. Colby is the second-best welterweight by a long way

Coming off a close loss to UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington took care of business against another rival and No. 6 ranked Jorge Masvidal. This was not necessarily a surprise as Covington is the No. 1 ranked welterweight contender, but it was more of a surprise how dominantly the former Oregon State University wrestler controlled the fight. I was expecting more of a battle from Masvidal, but Covington knew what he needed to do to win the fight and executed his plan to perfection.

It was Covington’s wrestling that was on full display at UFC 272 to slow down and control Masvidal. For the better part of the fight, Covington had control of Masvidal’s back and looked certain to sink a rear-naked choke in and get a submission. The way that Covington controlled Masvidal was impressive and the only other person to truly dominate “Gamebred” was Usman. Through the 25 minute fight, Covington had control for over 16 minutes of that and managed to land six takedowns. Those six takedowns moved Covington’s welterweight total to 67 which is second all-time behind Georges St-Pierre with 87. Because of the ground dominance in how he fought, Covington assured himself as the second-best welterweight behind Usman and could be one more win away from setting up a third chance to dethrone the champ.

The only time in the fight that Covington ever looked in danger against Masvidal at UFC 272 was in the 4th round when Masvidal landed a clean right cross and knocked Covington down to the canvas. There was a possibility of the fight being two rounds apiece after the knockdown, but Covington dominated the 5th and final round and left no choice for the judges. One judge even scored the final round 10-8 in favor of Covington who outstruck Masvidal in the last round 65-2 and controlled the fight for 4:34 of the five-minute round. Following Usman and Covington the only other welterweight who looks like they could pose a legitimate threat is No. 11 ranked Khamzat Chimaev, who will be facing his first top-five opponent in Gilbert Burns at UFC 273.

2. Bryce Mitchell is as good a fighter as he is a person

Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell put on an extremely impressive performance over UFC legend Edson Barboza. What stood out to me the most from Mitchell though came in the aftermath with what he told Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview.

“For 10 years [the people of Arkansas] had my back and I haven’t done a damn thing for y’all,” said Mitchell. “And I’m about to show you I’m not just good at hurting people. I can help people. Half of my fight purse, $45,000, is going to Arkansas children with medical conditions who have no hope. We will be their hope!”

This shows the type of person Mitchell is and how he cares about the people in his home state of Arkansas. The size of the donation is immense compared to what Mitchell made in the octagon and as a result, Mitchell was told not to donate his own money by UFC president Dana White and that the UFC would donate the money instead.

That was all good and nice from Mitchell, but when he was fighting Barboza at UFC 272 Mitchell lived up to his nickname, and “Thug Nasty” came out. This was the biggest fight of Mitchell’s young career and he dominated the No. 10 ranked UFC featherweight winning by unanimous decision that saw multiple 10-8 rounds given in favor of Mitchell. Now sitting at 15-0 as a professional, Mitchell will see himself ranked inside the top 10 and has the potential to be a title contender down the line as he is only 27 years old. Barboza is a very tough fight and Mitchell seamlessly controlled the veteran the entire fight. Mitchell landed all four takedown attempts and outstruck the Brazilian by a whopping 183-23.

3. Kevin Holland has refound his form at welterweight

UFC 272 was the debut of Kevin Holland in the welterweight division and he took care of business with a TKO of Alex Oliveira 38 seconds into the second round. This was the first fight for Holland since moving down from Middleweight where he had started 8-2 in the UFC before going winless in his last three fights at 185 pounds. This was not a straightforward fight for Holland who lost the first round 10-9 on all three judges’ scorecards. In the second round, Holland came out guns blazing and knocked down Oliveira with a right hand before jumping on the UFC veteran before finishing him with a barrage of punches and elbows. 

The win put momentum back in Holland’s corner after going winless in 2021 with two losses against top-ranked middleweights, Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson, and one no contest, against Kyle Daukaus. Before that cold streak, Holland had won five straight and jumped up to No. 10 in the UFC middleweight rankings. Now after a good debut win at welterweight we could see a ranked opponent up next for Holland.

4. Marina Rodriguez is a real contender at strawweight

In a fight between strawweight contenders, it was No. 3 ranked Marina Rodriguez that came out victorious over the No. 4 ranked Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272. Rodriguez lost the first round on all three scorecards but managed to do enough in the following two rounds to secure a split decision victory. The fight was all Xiaonan in the first round and very even in the second, but in the third round Rodriguez stepped up and took over. In the final round, she out-landed the Chinese fighter 40-18 and ultimately won the round on all three judges’ cards.

Atop the strawweight division sits Rose Namajunas who in her last two fights defeated No. 1 contender Zhang Weili twice to win and then defend her belt. Up next for the champion is Carla Esparza, but after her win on Saturday Rodriguez has made her case to take on the winner for a shot at UFC gold. 

The talented Brazilian holds a record of 16-1-2 and has won four straight now since losing to Esparza. She will be fighting for the belt next because if Esparza wins then it will be a chance for Rodriguez to get revenge for the only loss of her professional MMA career. If Namajunas wins it should be Rodriguez up next because she is the only fighter ranked in the top three of the strawweight division that has not fought “Thug Rose” giving new blood to the division’s best.

5. Another undefeated Russian is ready to challenge for the rankings

There is a familiar name starting to make some noise in the UFC’s featherweight division. The last name Nurmagomedov is synonymous with UFC gold as Khabib Nurmagomedov went 29-0 in his MMA career and retired as the undefeated lightweight champion. Khabib’s time is over, but his cousin Umar Nurmagomedov is just getting started in the UFC. In his second UFC fight at UFC 272, Umar needed less than a full round to submit Brian Kelleher to extend his record to 14-0. The fighter from Dagestan, Russia controlled the whole round and was only struck once before finishing Kelleher with a rear-naked choke. This was the third win in a row that Umar has won using that submission. The win put a sudden stop to Kelleher’s momentum which he had gained after winning two straight and three of his last four.

Umar is only 26 years old and has years of fighting ahead of him. However, it could be sooner rather than later that we see him start to try and move his way up the featherweight rankings, especially after his win at UFC 272. There is a lot of talent in the UFC featherweight division, but Umar has shown that he has the skills to contend with any of them.

Honorable Mention

Drake should really stop betting after losing $275K betting on Masvidal to win. The closing odds for Masvidal were +255 while Covington was a -350 favorite. This big loss for Drake won’t feel as bad as the Canadian rapper has an estimated net worth of $180 million.

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