Woodley will meet Usman on March 2 at UFC 235 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. ESPN.com first reported the booking Sunday after a tweet from Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, hinted that the bout was a done deal.
Woodley (19-3-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) vs. Usman (14-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will serve as the UFC 235 co-main event, with Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title defense vs. Anthony Smith as the headliner.
The Woodley-Usman booking means Covington (14-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is left on the outside looking in after winning an interim title last June at UFC 225.
A title-unification bout between Woodley and Covington originally had been targeted for UFC 228 in September. But it fell through after Covington needed surgery to repair a nasal injury. Woodley went on to defend his title with a second-round submission of Darren Till at the event.
UFC President Dana White White previously revealed an attempt to book Woodley vs. Covington again on Jan. 26, admitting frustration that he couldn’t get the champ to make a commitment and hinting the organization could go in a different direction. White told he had promised Usman a title shot at UFC 235 – vs. Woodley or someone else, presumably Covington, which left Woodley’s status as champion hanging in the balance.
Things worked out for the champ in the end, though.
The seeds for the title fight between Woodley and Usman were planted following The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale, where Usman dominated Rafael dos Anjos for a unanimous-decision win. Afterward, White hinted that Usman could steal Covington’s shot at Woodley.
Ultimately that’s what happened.
Usman will enter on a 13-fight winning streak, including nine in the UFC. He hasn’t lost since May 2013. Woodley will be making his fifth title defense since becoming champion in July 2016.
The latest UFC 235 lineup now includes:
- Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith – for light heavyweight title
- Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman – for welterweight title
- Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler
- Holly Holm vs. Aspen Ladd
- Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Jeremy Stephens
- Tecia Torres vs. Weili Zhang
- Mickey Gall vs. Diego Sanchez
- Macy Chiasson vs. Gina Mazany
- Misha Cirkunov vs. Ovince Saint Preux
UPDATE: Also added on this card former bw champ Cody Garbrandt vs. Pedro Munoz and Thomas Almeida and Chito Vera.