UFC 268 Main Event Odds & Pick: How To Bet Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington

UFC 268 Main Event Odds & Pick: How To Bet Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: (L-R) UFC fighters Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman.

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington Odds

Usman Odds
Covington Odds
3.5 (-155 / +125)
Madison Square Garden
Approx. 12:30 a.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute UFC odds here.

A welterweight title rematch between No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter Kamaru Usman and top 170-pound contender Colby Covington highlights the UFC 268 action on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Usman defeated Covington by fifth-round TKO at UFC 245 in December 2019. However, heading into the fifth round, the scorecards were a dead heat; one judge scored the fight 3-1 for Usman, another 3-1 for Covington, and the third had the fight tied two rounds apiece with five minutes to go.

Ultimately, Usman secured the late stoppage, but that fight was the toughest test of his MMA career, and this rematch has been nearly two years in the making. If that fight had gone the distance, perhaps Covington would have received an immediate rematch instead of a lengthy delay.

Usman has defended his belt three times since their first fight — including a pair of stoppage wins this year over Gilbert Burns (at UFC 258 in February) and Jorge Masvidal (at UFC 261 in April).

Since their last encounter, Covington had one fight, an easy victory over a washed-up Tyron Woodley last September. Let's break down the main event of UFC 268 and see where we can find some value. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time16:0415:16
Weight (pounds)170 lbs.170 lbs.
Reach (inches)76"72"
Date of birth5/11/19872/22/1988
Sig Strikes Per Min4.634.12
SS Accuracy54%38%
SS Absorbed Per Min2.402.86
SS Defense57%55%
Take Down Avg3.274.61
TD Acc48%50%
TD Def100%75%
Submission Avg0.10.1

Both welterweights are tremendous wrestlers, but neither man attempted a takedown in their first fight.

On paper, one might give Usman the slight wrestling advantage. "The Nigerian Nightmare" has never been taken down or controlled for any amount of time in the UFC. In contrast, Covington has permitted multiple takedowns and several minutes of control time to his opponents.

Offensively, Covington pursues takedowns at a higher rate because Usman has superior top control. And on the feet, Usman is the far more accurate (+16%), efficient (+2.23 to +1.26 strike differential), and defensively sound (+2%) striker.

Usman out-struck Covington by 12% (48% to 36%) in their first matchup, with a +32 strike differential (175-143) thanks to a ton of work to the body (landed 53 of 74 body strikes).

Typically, Covington can outpace his opponents, but Usman could keep up on cardio and outlasted Covington by ripping the body early and often.

And in his recent fights, Usman has made dramatic improvements to his striking with crisp and powerful straight punches down the pipe while fighting behind his jab. Trevor Whitman's influence is apparent, and the development is frightening for the rest of the division — who knocks out Jorge Masvidal LIKE THAT?!

Usman isn't invincible, though. He was hurt in the first fight against Masvidal and the opening round against Gilbert Burns but managed to recover and find his equilibrium quickly in both circumstances. However, Covington doesn't possess the same power as either of those men.

"Chaos" may have made improvements to his own game since the first fight, but we haven't been able to see those improvements in the Octagon since he has competed so sparsely.

I do expect one or both fighters to shoot a takedown at some point in this rematch. Moreover, I expect both men to show improved striking (after attempting 755 combined strikes in the first fight) in another potential barnburner.

That said, Covington's best weapons — his wrestling and cardio — are neutralized in going against Usman, the only welterweight who is superior to the No. 1 contender in both skills.

Like the first fight, I expect Covington to have moments of success in the rematch and potentially win one or two rounds against the champion, purely off of activity and output.

However, I struggle to see a path to victory for Covington beyond a close, volume-based decision. Usman is the stronger, and more physically imposing man (with a 4-inch reach advantage), and he carries significantly more power and finishing upside in this fight.

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Usman vs. Covington Pick

I projected Kamaru Usman as a 71.5% favorite in this welterweight title bout, and I don't see value on either side of the moneyline. I would need at least +285 (26% implied) to consider betting Covington at a 2.5% edge (projected 28.5%).

For reference, Usman closed at -200 for the first matchup.

I projected the bout to end inside of the distance 59% of the time (projected -141), and I see little value relative to the "No" in the "Fight to Go the Distance" market (listed -120).

However, as I mentioned above, more of the finish equity lies with Usman than Covington. I project value on Usman's KO/TKO prop (projected +133, listed +150) but prefer his odds to win inside the distance or by finish (projected +100, listed +120).

Conversely, Covington by decision (projected +401, listed +400) isn't a bad bet if you're looking to play the other side of the fight.

The Pick: Kamaru Usman wins by Finish (+120)

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