Over the years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has created historical spectacles. Who can forget Conor McGregor becoming the first-ever ‘Champ Champ’? What about when Khabib Nurmagomedov jumped over the Octagon into the crowd after he made McGregor tap? The organization has certainly grown thanks to its ludicrous marketing abilities and volatile fighters.
Unfortunately, events have fallen flat recently. Some factors are out of the UFC’s hands, whereas others are a direct consequence of Dana White’s decisions. The upcoming UFC 268 event is an opportunity to highlight why the UFC remains the pinnacle of combat sports. The stars are aligning.
Returning to New York
Madison Square Garden is the official venue for UFC 268, which is particularly significant because New York state didn’t allow mixed martial arts events to take place in the Empire State until UFC 205 when McGregor flattened Eddie Alvarez. The event marked a seminal moment for the sport.
The UFC has been to New York on a couple of occasions since. However, it’s by no means a staple on the brand’s calendar. Therefore, when the UFC does land in NYC, as it has done for Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz’s headline fights, it’s always going to be a showstopper.
With tens of thousands of fans in attendance, the atmosphere should be electric. Plus, the event will have the organization’s history as a backdrop. Throw in an incredible fight card, and NYC provides the perfect base for a UFC event that will undoubtedly keep people talking for years to come.
An Iconic Headline Act
Kamaru Usman is the undisputed king of the welterweight division. By knocking out Masvidal, he ensured his pound-for-pound status. Seeing as the biggest names such as Khabib are no longer around, 34-year-old Usman currently stands as the company’s main man. He’s so good, he made UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s jaw drop back in April. Even his appearance on the podcast was such a big hit, and it would get Spotify plays in massive numbers.
However, there’s one challenge that fans and pundits believe could be his undoing – Colby Covington. Covington adopts a similar style to McGregor in terms of fight promotion, so there’s always inevitable tension when he’s involved. This combo will likely set up the most anticipated rematch since Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier faced off in the Octagon.
This is a massive moment for Usman. Beat Covington, the outright betting markets suggests he should be at –300, and he can claim his status as the king and rise to another level of stardom. Fail, which isn’t out of the ordinary with Covington’s odds shortening to +240, and a trilogy is on the cards that will make the likes of McGregor and Diaz seem like small fry.
Kamaru Usman will meet Colby Covington in a welterweight title rematch at UFC 268 in November, Dana White told @bokamotoESPN.
The date and location are not finalized yet, but UFC is hoping for the fight to headline Madison Square Garden. pic.twitter.com/nqVAjgogO4
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 26, 2021
Setting up Charles Oliveria vs Dustin Poirier
The final piece of the puzzle is leaving a cliffhanger for the next UFC promotion. Fans love to guess which martial artists will fight each other and who will win. They are hypothetical scenarios, yet they keep viewers engaged. Therefore, a quality event must be set up for the next episode.
In Michael Chandler versus Justin Gaethje, White has the ideal match because the winner will undoubtedly face Charles Oliveria or Dustin Poirier for the lightweight crown. Also, the fight itself is very interesting. Gaethje, the -175 favorite, has only lost to Khabib recently, which isn’t a major upset. Chandler, meanwhile, may be the +150 second-favorite after Oliveria beat him in two rounds, yet he’s full of untapped potential.
Nobody knows what he’s capable of because he’s recently moved from Bellator. Plus, he took the Oliveria fight at short notice and can be forgiven for not being fully ready.
UFC 268 is shaping up to be the company’s most iconic event in ages. All that’s left is for the fighters to put on a show in November.