The welterweight rivalry that has captured the imagination of UFC fans will finally reach the octagon, with former teammates Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal set to go head to head in the main event of UFC 272.

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that the UFC’s chief business officer Hunter Campbell had informed him of the matchup, with contracts set to be signed for the bout in due course.

UFC 272 was set to be headlined by a featherweight title trilogy fight between Alexander Volkanovski and former champion Max Holloway, but injury to the Hawaiian forced him out of the matchup, leaving the UFC pondering its options to fill the spot.

A matchup between Volkanovski and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung was mooted, while former two-division champion Henry Cejudo also offered to come out of retirement to take on the Australian world champion.

The bantamweight title rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan was also set for the card, but Sterling recently tweeted to suggest the bout would now no longer be taking place on that date. At the time of writing, there has been no formal confirmation of the status of that matchup.

The rivalry between Covington and Masvidal is a heated one, with the pair exchanging jibes on social media for the past couple of years. Formerly teammates at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Covington has since departed the gym and now trains out of MMA Masters under coaches Daniel Valderde and Cesar Carneiro in Hialeah, Florida.

Masvidal achieved success through a banner year in 2019 that saw him knock out Darren Till in front of the Englishman’s own fans in London, before scoring the fastest knockout in UFC history with his unforgettable five-second flying-knee finish of rival Ben Askren at UFC 239 in Las Vegas.

“Gamebred” then went on to face Nate Diaz at Madison Square Garden at UFC 244 for a special one-off “BMF” title, and added another finish to his record, TKO-ing the Stockton native at the end of the third round.

Since then, Masvidal has had two shots at Kamaru Usman’s UFC welterweight title, and fallen short on both occasions. He lost a decision at UFC 251 after stepping in on short notice, then was stunningly knocked out in the rematch at UFC 261.

Covington, meanwhile, is also looking to rebound after twice losing to Usman. “Chaos” was stopped late in the fifth round at UFC 245 after a barnstorming back-and-forth encounter then, after finishing former champ Tyron Woodley, faced Usman for a second time. This time he pushed Usman all the way to the scorecards, but lost a unanimous decision as his second tilt at welterweight gold fell short.

Following that defeat, many suggested the perfect next bout would be a grudge match between Covington and Masvidal. Now it seems it may be about to become a reality.