UFC 245: And Still?
2019 is slowly winding down and the UFC is bringing out the big guns for its last pay-per-view of the year. Tonight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada the UFC is giving us three perennial title fights to top off an already loaded card.
Headlining the night, current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will have his first title defense against number one contender Colby Covington. In the co-main event, Max Holloway will look to further solidify himself as the greatest featherweight of all-time as he defends his title against the gritty number one contender Alexander Volkanovski. As if that wasn't enough, we'll also be treated to dual-wielding champion Amanda Nunes defending her women's featherweight title against Muay Thai ace Germaine De Randamie.
With the bulk of quality fighters competing on this card, it's apparent that the UFC is really looking to wow us with this event...but will these match ups actually deliver? You never know. If this sport has taught me anything, it's that what appears golden on paper can turn out to store brand foil in action.
Let’s dive into this card a little further and see what we'll be getting ourselves into.
With the downright deplorable trash talk between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington (with the most talk coming from Covington) over the last year, it was inevitable that these two would lock horns in the Octagon eventually. With this matchup, two of the division’s elite wrestlers meet in a fight that will be a contest to see which combatant can impose their will without giving up any ground in the process.
Usman is an imposing physical presence. When standing, he has the power to inflict significant damage. Although striking isn't his bread and butter, he's not afraid to strike for extended periods of time. Usman shines brightest when he's able to pressure and strong-arm wrestle his opponents. Whether it be forcing them against the cage or bullying them to the canvas and inflicting ground and pound, Usman can be quite a handful to deal with. As evident with the majority of his fights that go the distance, Usman can keep a solid and consistent pace for the majority of any contest. Sure, his style probably won't leave you screaming for an encore (because honestly, his grind-em-out wrestling shtick can be a drag to watch sometimes), but you can't refute the results. Ironically enough, you can say the same thing for Colby Covington.
Covington has raced up to the top of the division by utilizing frenetic pace, pressure and suffocating wrestling to win his fights. When Covington steps in the octagon there's no mystery as to what he's trying to accomplish. His striking is adequate at best, but he uses it as a means to transition to his wrestling and he will wear on you like a weighted blanket until you fold under his pressure. If and when his opponent folds, he grinds them out for the duration of the fight until he gets his hand raised in an inevitable decision.
In my opinion, the winner of this title fight will be determined by who is going to give up the most ground in what could potentially be a five-round grapple fest where nothing of note happens. Covington hasn't faced anyone with Usman's wrestling prowess and physicality while Usman hasn't faced anyone with Covington’s relentless pressure and gas tank. Be ready for a ton of clinch battling, pushing against the fence, and jockeying for position to score a take down. I'd like to hope I'm wrong, but we might be in for a long night with this main event.
Prediction: Both of these gentlemen have great wrestling and pressure ability that could possibly cancel each other out. That being said, I believe that the difference in this fight will be Usman's strength. This could be my bias speaking, but I can't envision Covington being able to push Usman around and wear on him like he's done with other opponents. I think Usman's physicality will be too much. It won't be pretty, but I'm predicting Usman wins via a five-round unanimous decision.
I won’t lie to you, this is my personal main event of the evening. Even before he became a champion, Max Holloway was delivering stellar performances in nearly every outing he was apart of. His opponent Alexander Volkanovski, in his own right, has proven his worth as an elite featherweight with recent wins over former featherweight champion Jose Aldo and a breakout performance victory against Chad Mendes.
The talent that these men bring to the cage make this a must-see matchup, but it's an extremely difficult fight to predict. Holloway has shown time and again why some consider him to be the greatest featherweight to ever walk this planet. He's an exceptional volume striker who is so methodically efficient and violently creative. He fights with a brash confidence that allows him to become stronger with each passing round. More often than not, his opponents can't match his volume and end up breaking in the process. I wouldn't say he's invincible but in order to beat him you need to cross every 'T' and dot every 'I'. With that being said, I believe Volkanovski will be one of his toughest tests to date.
Volkanovski is a physical tank of a featherweight. In addition to his physique, he brings a hard-nosed, no nonsense style that punishes his opponents. Volkanovski can pressure well, has knockout power, and brings an overall filthy grittiness that's difficult to match. Volkanovski isn't an overall better striker than Holloway, but he has the kind of power that Holloway will have to be wary of. Also, Volkanovski's ability to pressure and mix things up with his takedowns will be key if he wants to leave with that featherweight strap. I have no doubt that we'll be in for a war with this one because neither of these men know how to back down...which means someone will eventually have to get rolled over.
Prediction: This is a razor close matchup in my eyes; we’re most definitely getting a war with this one. I've flip-flopped back and forth on this one but I believe that Holloway will be able to overcome Volkanovski's power with superior technique and versatility. I'm predicting Holloway wins via five round decision...I think. Yeah, I'm going with Holloway in this one.
The main event could potentially be a dud and the Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes fight might break my heart into small bitter pieces, but outside of these two fights, I think we're in for a hell of a night. You definitely need to be around a television or computer screen when this goes down. And if you happen to miss it, just stop by the Dojo Talk Podcast and I'll fill you in on everything that happened.
Fights to look out for:
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine De Randamie
Geoff Neal vs. Mike Perry
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara France
Ketlen Viera vs. Irene Aldana
Petr Yan vs. Urijah Faber
Main Card: 10:00 PM on PPV/ESPN+ Preliminary Card: 8:00 PM On ESPN+ Early Prelims: 6:15 PM on UFC Fight Pass
Michael "CerealSensei" Williams is the host of the Dojo Talk Podcast. He is an avid fight fan, author, hip hop enthusiast, and part-time gamer. You can find him roaming the Twitter streets at @CerealSensei and you can listen to the Dojo Talk Podcast on Soundcloud.