Welterweight star Colby Covington made a triumphant return to the Octagon this past weekend, earning a technical knockout victory over rival and former champion Tyron Woodley.

Covington was in full control of the main event bout, landing 232 of the 311 strikes he threw and getting the better of the grappling exchanges before Woodley sustained a painful rib injury early in the fifth round that forced the referee to step in and stop the fight.

Covington (16-2) hadn’t fought since losing to current 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 245 in December in their title match. It was Covington’s first stoppage win since he put away Max Griffin back at UFC 202 in 2016.

Meanwhile, Woodley (19-6-1) has lost three in a row and it’s unclear what the future holds for the 38-year-old.

Covington called for a rematch with Usman and called out former training partner Jorge Masvidal following his win. Usman is expected to defend his belt against Gilbert Burns, who defeated Woodley in late May, at some point in 2020 and there has been talk of Masvidal facing Nate Diaz in a rematch of their BMF title fight at UFC 244. Covington also said he’d be willing to fight Nate Diaz’s brother, Nick Diaz, after the longtime fan favourite recently announced a planned return to MMA.

Covington has the third-highest winning percentage in UFC welterweight history (minimum 10 fights) behind only Usman and Georges St-Pierre.

Also on the main card, rising star Khamzat Chimaev improved to 9-0 as a pro with a spectacular one-punch knockout of middleweight veteran Gerald Meerschaert.

Chimaev, 26, put the mixed martial world on notice back in July on Fight Island when he made his UFC debut with a pair of dominant wins in two different weight classes separated by just 10 days.

The Chechnya-born Swede is a natural welterweight (170 pounds) but frequently fights up a division at middleweight (185 pounds). He dominated middleweight brawler John Phillips in his first fight then did the same to welterweight prospect Rhys McKee in his second outing less than two weeks later, outstriking those two opponents 192-2.

His win over Meerschaert took his stardom to new heights.

There had been talk that Chimaev’s next opponent could be in the welterweight division against Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Demian Maia but nothing has been finalized and anything seems possible with Chimaev considering his versatility regarding weight classes and the fact he hasn’t taken any damage in any of his UFC fights thus far.

Chimaev has said he is “ready to smash everybody” regardless of division.

UFC president Dana White has said he has never seen anything like the emergence of Chimaev.

The event, which took place at the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, was the UFC’s final event in North America for at least the next five weeks as the organization heads back to Abu Dhabi for five consecutive Fight Island events, including UFC 253, three Fight Night cards and UFC 254.

Here are the complete results from Saturday’s card:

— Colby Covington def. Tyron Woodley by TKO (rib injury)
— Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price ends in majority draw
— Khamzat Chimaev def. Gerald Meerschaert by knockout
— Johnny Walker def. Ryan Spann by knockout
Mackenzie Dern def. Randa Markos by submission (armbar)
— Kevin Holland def. Darren Stewart by split decision

— David Dvorak def. Jordan Espinosa by unanimous decision
— Damon Jackson def. Mirsad Bektic by submission (guillotine choke)
— Mayra Bueno Silva def. Mara Romero Borella by submission (armbar)
— Jessica-Rose Clark def. Sarah Alpar by TKO (punches)
Darrick Minner def. T.J. Laramie by submission (guillotine choke)
— Randy Costa def. Journey Newson by knockout (head kick)
— Andre Ewell def. Irwin Rivera by split decision
— Tyson Nam def. Jerome Rivera by TKO

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