UFC will return to the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, USA on Saturday night for UFC 268. The loaded pay-per-view lineup is set to include two title rematches at the top of the card.
In the main event, Kamaru Usman will attempt to defend his UFC Welterweight Championship for the fifth time when fighting Colby Covington in a rematch.
The co-main event will see Zhang Weili look to regain championship status when facing UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Early Prelims (6:00PM EDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT) (ESPNews / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EDT) (PPV)
Bout 14: Kamaru Usman (19-1) vs. Colby Covington (16-1) (UFC Welterweight Champion)
Usman Takes Decision Win Over Covington, Defends Welterweight Belt For Fifth Time
Kamaru Usman’s dominant run as UFC Welterweight Champion continued in Saturday’s main event, as he scored a unanimous decision win over Colby Covington in their rematch (48-47, 48-47 & 49-46).
Usman gained control of the fight early on, notably putting Covington in trouble during the second round. Three rounds of the fight were close between the welterweights, although they were enough to get Usman a tight three-rounds-to-two win on two scorecards.
Usman opened the fight with a relaxed, but strong first round that saw him out-land Covington.
Usman nearly finished the fight in the second round, scoring two consecutive knockdowns on Covington with left hooks.
Covington surprisingly made the fight close in the final three rounds, engaging in striking exchanges where he was able to connect and even stun Usman at times.
While Covington was able to compete on the feet, he was absolutely shut out through over a dozen takedown attempts in the fight.
Covington was facing Usman for the second time as a pro. He had first challenged the champ in late 2019, getting stopped in the fifth round of a fast-paced striking battle.
Covington bounced back with a main event win last year, defeating former champ Tyron Woodley in September 2020.
Usman has now defended his UFC Welterweight Championship five times since earning it in 2019. He fought in two title bouts earlier this year, scoring stoppage wins over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal.
Bout 13: Rose Namajunas (10-4) vs. Zhang Weili (21-2) (UFC Strawweight Championship)
Namajunas Takes Split Decision Win In Rematch Against Zhang
Rose Namajunas defended the UFC Strawweight Championship for the first time in her second title reign, earning a close split decision win over Zhang Weili in a rematch (48-47 Zhang, 48-47 Namajunas & 49-46 Namajunas).
The back-and-forth matchup saw both strawweights have their moments, both with striking and ground positions.
The title fight had a slow opening round, as the strawweights cautiously traded blows. Namajunas was more active with the punches, while Zhang targeted the legs of Namajunas with kicks.
Zhang secured a trip takedown in the third minute, although Namajunas was able to get up a minute later.
Zhang wobbled Namajunas hard in the second round, connecting with a left hook that backed her up. Zhang scored a takedown shortly after, catching a head kick to set it up.
Namajunas got the best of a clinch battle in the final minute of the second round, taking Zhang down and nearly finishing the round in half guard.
The right cross of Namajunas connected frequently in the third and fourth rounds.
Zhang secured a takedown briefly late in the fourth round, taking the back of Namajunas before the clock ran out.
Namajunas’ most dominant round was the final frame, taking Zhang down early and spending most of the round landing punches from full guard.
The crowd, which was very invested in the fight, wasn’t hesitant to make the fight a nationalistic battle. The New York audience audibly booed during Zhang’s introduction and broke into loud “USA” chants during the fight.
Namajunas regained her belt earlier this year, securing a quick head kick knockout over Zhang in April.
Zhang had defended the belt once in her title reign, fighting to a split decision win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March.
Bout 12: Frankie Edgar (24-9-1) vs. Marlon Vera (19-7-1) (Bantamweight)
Vera Finishes Veteran Edgar With Front Kick
Marlon Vera secured a brutal third-round stoppage win against veteran Frankie Edgar, flooring him in the final minutes of their fight with a front kick to the head.
The brutal kick from Vera put a near-immediate end to their fight, as he only landed one more shot before the fight concluded.
The finish put an end to what was a close fight between the two bantamweights. Between striking and wrestling, former featherweight champ Edgar and ranked bantamweight Vera were in a tight battle.
Edgar has now been stopped in two consecutive fights. His previous bout was in February, where Cory Sandhagen stopped him in just 28 seconds.
Vera has now won two consecutive bouts. He went the distance last time around, defeating Davey Grant on scorecards in June.
Bout 11: Shane Burgos (13-3) vs. Billy Quarantillo (16-3) (Featherweight)
Burgos Snaps Losing Streak With Close Win Over Quarantillo
Shane Burgos prevailed over Billy Quarantillo in a close striking battle, getting the unanimous decision nod after three rounds (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Quarantillo started the fight strong, but later rounds from Burgos allowed him to climb back and take the lead by the end.
Burgos’ best moment was late in the second round, as he came forward with a flurry of shots that backed Quarantillo up and hurt him.
A high volume of leg kicks started to hurt Quarantillo in the second and third rounds, as he started to fall over easily during exchanges.
Quarantillo was coming off a stoppage win he earned over Gabriel Benitez in July.
While the fight was at a high pace, the crowd didn’t react to a large portion of the action due to it following the hectic battle between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler.
Bout 10: Justin Gaethje (22-3) vs. Michael Chandler (22-6) (Lightweight)
Gaethje Puts on ‘Fight of the Year’ Contender Against Chandler, Calls For Title Fight
Striking skills and toughness were on display to open the main card, as Justin Gaethje took a unanimous decision win over fellow ranked lightweight Michael Chandler (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
The lightweights delivered on a promise they touted earlier in the week, fighting in an all-out brawl that saw both fighters consume high levels of damage.
It didn’t take long for chaotic striking exchanges to happen in the opening round. The fighters started to trade with hard blows by the second minute, connecting with shots that landed clean.
Chandler’s best shot of the first round was in the third minute, as a right cross visibly wobbled Gaethje.
Gaethje floored Chandler early into the second round, connecting with a right uppercut for a knockdown. While wrestling allowed Chandler to slow down the fight on the ground, he consumed numerous shots on the floor before getting back to his feet.
Back at a stand-up exchange, a bloody Chandler failed to take Gaethje down with wrestling and continued to get clipped with shots. Chandler seemingly hurt Gaethje late in the second round with a punch, but a pause came immediately after due to an accidental eye poke that landed at the same time.
Chandler was able to land a thudding takedown in the final round, but Gaethje immediately took control of their position once hitting the ground.
The fight turned into an all-out slugging battle in the closing minutes, with taunting and trading with damaging straight punches.
Both fighters lost a title challenge in their previous appearance.
Gaethje’s prior bout was a year ago, getting submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. That bout, which was Nurmagomedov’s last as a pro, snapped a four-fight winning streak for Gaethje.
After his win, Gaethje called for a fight between the winner of an upcoming title fight between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier.
“Hopefully it’s Oliveira in Brazil or Poirier in Louisiana,” said Gaethje in his post-fight interview.
Bout 9: Andreas Michailidis (13-4) vs. Alex Pereira (3-1) (Middleweight)
Former GLORY Kickboxing Champion Pereira Scores Finish In UFC Debut
Former two-division GLORY Kickboxing Champion Alex Pereira had an explosive UFC debut to finish the prelims, stopping Andreas Michailidis early in the second round with strikes.
Pereira dropped Michailidis in the first minute of the second round with a flying switch knee to the head. After a moment of pause, Pereira landed a couple of ground and pound shots to end the fight.
Michailidis was able to survive the opening round by putting Pereira against the cage with wrestling.
Pereira has been one of GLORY Kickboxing’s top names in recent years, consistently competing in title fights since 2017. He is maybe best known for beating UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya twice in kickboxing, with one of those wins coming via stoppage.
Pereira’s previous MMA win before Saturday was on an LFA card last year, where he earned a devastating first-round knockout against Thomas Powell.
Michailidis was coming off a win in his previous fight, defeating KB Bhullar via decision in May.
Bout 8: Al Iaquinta (14-6-1) vs. Bobby Green (27-12-1) (Lightweight)
Green Ends Skid With First-Round TKO Win
17-fight UFC veteran Bobby Green snapped a two-fight skid on the prelims, becoming the first to finish Al Iaquinta with strikes.
Iaquinta was first dropped by a right cross while charging in at Green halfway through the round. The veteran then took full guard against Iaquinta on the ground, where he threw numerous punches before the fight was stopped.
Iaquinta has now dropped three consecutive fights. He was making his return on Saturday, as previous losses in the streak were in 2019 against Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker.
Bout 7: Phil Hawes (11-2) vs. Chris Curtis (26-8) (Middleweight)
Veteran Curtis Scores Stoppage Victory In UFC Debut
Veteran MMA fighter Chris Curtis won his UFC debut on the prelims, connecting with a strong series of strikes late in the first round against Phil Hawes for a finish.
The finishing sequence started when Curtis visibly wobbled Hawes on the feet with a right hook. Hawes then dropped to the canvas after a combination of a head punch and knee to the body landed in a clinch, causing the fight to end.
Curtis, a former PFL fighter and CES Welterweight Champion, was emotional afterward about his long-awaited UFC debut.
“I’ve been trying to get in here for 10 years now … I’ve given up 14 years of my life for this,” said Curtis in his post-fight interview.
Curtis joined the UFC roster earlier this year, stepping in on just a day’s notice to face Hawes in October after a previous opponent fell off a card. While he appeared at the weigh-ins for that bout and made weight, the matchup did not go forward.
The fight was later rebooked for Saturday’s card.
Curtis joined the promotion on a strong run this year, having attained four wins earlier in 2021 on the regional scene.
The fight was Hawes’ first loss in the UFC. He had earned three consecutive wins before then, including victories over Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus earlier this year.
Bout 6: Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (10-3) (Middleweight)
Imavov Puts Away Shahbazyan With Slicing Ground and Pound
A dominant second round from Nassourdine Imavov came to a close late, as ground and pound strikes to Edmen Shahbazyan put an end to the fight in the 10th minute.
Imavov had Shahbazyan in trouble throughout the second round. He attempted numerous deep submission attempts in the frame, although he wasn’t able to finish the fight with them.
After escaping a guillotine choke from Shahbazyan, Imavov took full guard and got to unload with ground and pound shots. Moving into a crucifix position, Imavov’s punches caused cuts and bruising, eventually ending the bout.
Imavov has now won three of his four fights. He earned a stoppage victory in his previous fight as well, defeating Ian Heinisch in July.
Bout 5: Jordan Williams (9-5) vs. Ian Garry (7-0) (Welterweight)
Undefeated Cage Warriors Vet Garry Wins UFC Debut
Former Cage Warriors Welterweight Champion Ian Garry scored a stoppage win in his UFC debut, stopping Jordan Williams.
Garry first hurt Williams with a counter-right cross. A wobbled Williams then got hit with a few follow-up punches, causing the referee to step in and end the fight.
Garry was somewhat slow to start the fight, as Williams was able to connect with some shots early on. However, his explosive power was on full display once the opportunity for a finish appeared.
Garry had won all seven of his previous fights in notable European MMA promotion Cage Warriors. He signed with the UFC after defeating Jack Grant in June to become the promotion’s new 170-pound champ.
Williams is now on a three-fight losing streak in the UFC. Previous losses came against Nassourdine Imavov and Mickey Gall.
Bout 4: Gian Villante (17-13) vs. Chris Barnett (21-7) (Heavyweight)
Barnett Earns Flashy Stoppage For First UFC Win, Defeats Retiring Villante
Chris Barnett earned his first UFC win on the prelims, defeating a retiring Gian Villante with a flashy knockout finish.
Barnett showed his impressive athleticism in the fight, knocking Villante down with a spinning wheel kick in the second round. He then pounced on him with ground and pound that eventually stopped the fight.
Villante revealed earlier this week that his UFC 268 appearance was going to be his last in MMA. He has fought as a pro since 2009, with 18 of his appearances coming in the UFC cage.
Barnett used his mic time afterward to give Villante a proper send-off.
“Stand up New York, stand up for this man, alright?” said Barnett in his post-fight interview.
Barnett, a veteran MMA heavyweight with a cult following from hardcore fans, joined the UFC just earlier this year. He lost his promotional debut on short notice, getting submitted by Ben Rothwell in May.
Bout 3: Dustin Jacoby (15-5-1) vs. John Allan (13-6) (Light Heavyweight)
Jacoby Continues 205-Pound Campaign With Decision Victory
Dustin Jacoby’s rise up the light heavyweight division continued on Saturday, as he beat John Allan via unanimous decision on the prelims (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
Jacoby was the more active striker throughout, throwing and connecting at a much higher volume than Allan. His ability to remain active on the feet earned him the win.
Jacoby was a late addition to the card, as it was reported just last week that he would step in and replace Aleksa Camur.
Jacoby has been on an impressive run since rejoining the UFC roster last year. He has now won four of his five bouts since October 2020, with the other result being a draw.
Allan has yet to earn a win in his UFC career, having lost two bouts and gotten a no-contest result from another.
Bout 2: Melsik Baghdasaryan (6-1) vs. Bruno Souza (10-1) (Featherweight)
Baghdasaryan Defeats Short-Notice Newcomer Souza For Second UFC Win
Melsik Baghdasaryan scored his second UFC win, defeating short-notice opponent Bruno Souza via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Baghdasaryan out-landed Souza during a relatively slow-paced striking battle in all three rounds. Souza was able to use movement to get out of Baghdasaryan’s way for most of the fight, although he wasn’t landing as much.
A large portion of Bahgdasaryan’s striking was leg kicks, marking up the lead leg of Souza early on.
Souza took the fight on just a week’s notice and missed weight for the bout by two-and-a-half pounds. He was replacing TJ Laramie, who had to withdraw from the card recently due to an MRSA infection.
Souza became the LFA Featherweight Champion earlier this year, competing for five rounds against Javier Garcia in August for a unanimous decision win.
Baghdasaryan won his UFC debut in July, scoring a second-round finish win against Collin Anglin.
Bout 1: CJ Vergara (9-2-1) vs. Ode Osbourne (9-4) (Flyweight)
Osbourne Bounces Back With Hard Win Over Vergara
Ode Osbourne returned to the win column to open the card, getting a unanimous decision win over UFC newcomer CJ Vergara (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Vergara and Osbourne had a high tempo striking battle for most of the fight. The flyweights both landed frequently, making the fight hard to score at times.
While Osbourne had the better striking overall, Vergara had a more diverse attack, often going to the body with punches.
Osbourne was returning quite quickly after his last loss. His previous outing was in August, where Manel Kape stopped him early with a flying knee.
Osbourne’s UFC record is now an even two wins and two losses.
Vergara earned a UFC contract on the recent season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” where he stopped Bruno Korea in less than a minute with strikes.
Vergara missed weight for the fight Friday, coming in one-and-a-half pounds over the flyweight limit.