After some protracted negotiations, Kamaru Usman will be defending his belt from Colby Covington after all.
Usman and Covington will square off for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 245 on Dec. 14, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. The fight will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington for the 170 belt is a done deal for UFC 245 on Dec. 14 in Las Vegas, sources say. Story coming to @espn shortly.
UFC 245 will feature 3 title fights after all.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 27, 2019
The fight will be the first challenge Usman faces as welterweight champ, and was a natural choice given Covington actually held the interim welterweight title in the past before getting stripped of the title last September. Covington was slated to face then-champion Tyron Woodley, but was unable to schedule the fight due to a nasal issue that required surgery.
Usman captured the real UFC welterweight belt at UFC 235 in March, beating Woodley by unanimous decision.
Covington had squabbled with UFC over fight payment
Of course, Covington has still presented himself as a UFC champion, going so far as to carry a belt at UFC events despite having the title stripped.
Covington’s agreement after some contentious back-and-forth with UFC president Dana White. Covington claimed he had agreed to take the match, then rejected the payment offered by the UFC and claimed he deserved more money because of his relationship with President Donald Trump. Covington visited Trump in the White House after winning the interim belt and has counted the president’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric as spectators for one of his fights.
From MMA Fighting:
“What happened exactly was the UFC came to me and offered me a basic challenger’s rate,” Covington explained when speaking to MMA Fighting on Monday. “I said no, I’m not challenging. I’m champion. I’ve never lost, I just defended my title. I brought in the Trumps. I got a tweet from [Donald] Trump, that’s like $3.5 million in marketing. If you break down the analytics of it, in itself, just to promote their show.
White responded by criticizing the strategy as a behavior of Covington, who previously turned down an opportunity to fight Woodley as well.
Sets up monster slate for UFC 245
With the negotiations hopefully finished, Usman and Covington’s match-up gives UFC 245 a third title fight.
Featherweight champion Max Holloway is scheduled to fight No. 1 contender Alexander Volkanovski, while two-division champ Amanda Nunes will face Germaine de Randamie with her bantamweight belt on the line.
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