COLBY COVINGTON's eagerly-anticipated rematch with Kamaru Usman is a 'do-or-die' moment for his UFC championship aspirations.
Chaos will renew his fierce rivalry with the welterweight king early on Sunday morning in the main event of UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden.
The former interim 170lb champ suffered a fifth-round TKO loss to the promotion's first African-born champion in a closely-contested battle in December 2019.
And former middleweight king Michael Bisping reckons a second straight defeat to the Nigerian Nightmare will spell the end of Covington's dream of winning UFC gold.
The Count told SunSport: "We haven't seen too much of Colby. He hasn't been [talking too much]. But I'm sure this week he's gonna be ramping up the antics.
"But I assume that's because he's got his nose to the grindstone in the gym because he knows he's got to win this fight.
"If he doesn't win this, he's not going to get [another] shot at being the champ.
"Probably ever again. This is that kind of do-or-die [moment] for his career.
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"I'm not saying he doesn't have a career if he loses, of course, he does.
"But in terms of champion and those aspirations, he's not getting a third crack. Let's put it like that."
Covington, 33, has only fought once since his UFC 245 war with the active Usman, defeating former team-mate and welterweight champ Tyron Woodley last September.
That inactivity, Bisping believes, could potentially be the southpaw's undoing.
The Brit said of the former American Top Team standout: "He hasn't been active, so that's always a negative.
"Certainly when the guy you're going up against has been very active. Kamaru Usman has been an incredibly active champion."
He added: "Colby has not been active. Only one fight since the last fight with the champ which was Tyron.
"And no disrespect to Tyron, but he's one of many people to beat Tyron.
"Tyron kind of fell off a little bit. And I say that with respect to the former champ."
In order to get his hands on undisputed UFC gold, the divisive Covington will have to overcome a new-look Usman – who has registered back-to-back KO victories in his last two title defences.
Usman's drastically improved striking has coincided with his move to Denver, Colorado to train with renowned coach Trevor Wittman.
The somewhat forced move switch Sanford MMA – the result of a title defence against former team-mate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 – has arguably been one of the best decisions he's ever made.
Bisping said: "As you touched on there with Trevor Witman, has got better and better and better.
"In some ways, the best thing that ever happened to him was fighting Gilbert Burns and being forced to change coaches.
"That's not a knock on Henri Hooft, it's just the fact that No.1: Trevor is an incredible coach.
"But secondly, the more coaches you work with, you get different looks.
"Each coach brings something different to the table.
"And Trevor Wittman is incredible in striking, as is Henri Hooft. But you can see the improvements he's made.
"And as I said, he's been very, very active and he's grown into the role of champion.
"The way he demolished Masvidal, I don't think anybody saw that coming."
Watch UFC 268: Usman v Covington 2 exclusively live on BT Sport 1 from 2am on Saturday 6th November. For more info go to www.bt.com/sport/ufc
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