UFC Covington: Woodley Preview

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Fight fans can look forward to a full and stacked night of fights Saturday. Due to a high number of recent fight cancellations from COVID-19, it seems the UFC has scheduled more fights than usual — 14. The first fight of the night will start around 5 p.m., and the main event will likely not wrap-up until around midnight.  

Before we get into the main event, the six-fight main card looks to be full of fan favorites. In the women’s strawweight division, jiu jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern takes on “The Quiet Storm” Randa Markos. I don’t know what her opponent is going for with her nickname, but Dern will look to build on a recent first-round kneebar finish that she impressed the audience with following her first career loss.  

Next, we move to the light heavyweight division, where the young prospect Johnny Walker takes on the streaking Ryan Spann. Spann boasts an eight-fight win streak, five of which have been in the UFC. In 18 career wins, Spann has secured 11 submission finishes and has only needed the judges three times, one of which was in his recent win over Sam Alvey. Across the octagon, the 28-year-old Walker looks to right the ship after back-to-back losses. This time last year, Walker was on a three-fight knockout streak and was on the short-list to earn a title shot. Walker was matched up with top contender Corey Anderson, who considered the booking disrespectful, and Walker found himself on the receiving end of a brutal knockout. Oddsmakers have this fight listed as near even and it will bring sure-fire action.  

In the middleweight division, Khamzat Chimaev looks to win his third fight in three months. In July, the rising star won his first two fights in the UFC with only 10 days in between. Impressively, fight stats show that en route to these victories, Chimaev was only punched a combined one time. It’s possible that Chimaev will be overlooking his opponent, Gerald Meerschaert, as Chimaev is already in talks to fight Demain Maia next month if he wins here.  

In the co-main event, the always game “Cowboy” Cerrone meets Niko Price, the only fighter who can say he’s knocked-out two of his opponents while lying on his back. Both fighters are fine with trading punches with their opponents, and I would hope that Cerrone will avoid engaging with Price while he is on his back. Expect this fight to be a fan-friendly stand-up war of attrition. If Cerrone finds himself on the losing end, the 52-fight veteran will be on a five-fight losing streak and should consider whether it is time to hang up the gloves. 

The night comes to a close with a highly anticipated welterweight clash between former title challenger Colby Covington and former champ Tyron Woodley. In his most recent fight, Covington fought Kamaru Usman in a back-and-forth championship bout. The fight was tied on the scorecards entering the fifth round, but Covington received his second career loss when the referee waved off the action after Covington was knocked down for the second time in the round. Covington’s performance in the cage has always been worthy of respect, and this night was no different. On the other hand, many fight fans are put-off by Covington’s connection to President Donald Trump outside the cage. He is frequently seen wearing a MAGA hat, was invited to the White House after winning an interim championship and Trump was in attendance to one of his fights last year. Most recently, Covington was at Trump’s Nevada rally, where Trump mentioned his upcoming fight and wished him luck.   

In comes Tyron Woodley, who has had beef with Covington for over a year stemming from this connection. In his most recent appearances, Woodley has lost two lopsided decisions, the first being the fight in which he lost his title belt. Woodley has not been known as an action fighter; instead, he circles out of danger and looks for the perfect opening to turn off his opponent’s lights. In his last two fights, fans have seen a noticeable hesitance from the former champ, which has drawn questions as to whether he still has the inner-fire needed to fight. Covington might just be the perfect opponent to turn his career back around. Woodley has publicly threatened that he will land an intentional low blow on Covington. Though this does not come off as a strong strategy (it would likely result in a two-point penalty), it does suggest that we may see a more aggressive version of Woodley on Saturday, which makes this contest even more intriguing. 

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