Love him or hate him -- admittedly, it is probably the latter -- you can no longer deny Colby Covington is an elite welterweight. That is probably the way he prefers it, anyway.
No, Covington was not in the final fight of UFC Fight Night 119 on Oct. 28 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but MMA lore will remember him as the true “main event” of the card. After an awkward start to striking proceedings, Covington took over against the gentlemanly Demian Maia, as he badly battered and bruised the hometown Paulista over the final two rounds to win the biggest bout of his pro career. More notably, the 29-year-old American Top Team product refused to apologize for his incendiary comments about Brazil and its people, doubling down on his disses that the country is “a dump” and its citizens were “filthy animals.”
Because of his pre- and post-fight antics, Covington is now easily among MMA’s most reviled characters. More crucially, with the Maia win, Covington is now 8-1 in the Octagon and debuts in the Sherdog.com welterweight top 10 at No. 7; Maia falls from third to eighth.
Less cringe-worthy, top-10 bantamweight John Lineker returned to the Octagon for the first time since former UFC champion T.J. Dillashaw broke his jaw at UFC 207 in December. “Hands of Stone” was unable to net a stoppage, but the Brazilian bomber pounded away on the suddenly relevant and very much improved Marlon Vera for the better part of 15 minutes. The comeback win sees Lineker jump from ninth to the No. 8 spot on our 135-pound list.
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