Even without a title in play, the grudge match between Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley is the material of which the main events on the map are made.
If this fight had taken place 18 months ago, this is probably the position in which these two blood rivals would have found themselves; instead, in the ESPN + era of UFC, they’re headlining a stacked UFC Vegas 11 card at UFC APEX in Las Vegas this Saturday. This less prestigious positioning is emblematic of the bloom that has been removed from what has long been considered a must-see match.
Neither man comes in with a title, undisputed or not. Both are suffering losses, although Woodley’s recent efforts have been far more disheartening than Covington’s competitive clash with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. And neither of them have been very lucky this week to build on the years of animosity that naturally developed between them, with Woodley simply repeating “Black Lives Matter” after the press conference. of Thursday to deal with social unrest in the United States and Covington having to deliver his usual rhetoric to a group of journalists as opposed to his opponent’s face.
Granted, there is something to be said about the implications for the candidates and the career of the two men, but at this point we all can’t wait to see them have 25 minutes to back up their speech and maybe, just maybe. – even though I wouldn’t bet on it – settle their differences once and for all.
In another main card action, welterweights Donald Cerrone and Niko Price meet in a co-main event that has already been anointed as the ‘Fight of the Night’, hot prospect Khamzat Chimaev takes on veteran middleweight. Gerald Meerschaert, Johnny Walker looks to break the first loser of his career when he fights fellow lightweight heavyweight Ryan Spann, Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern fights Randa Markos in a strawweight bout, and middleweight Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart are looking to stay in the winner’s circle.
What: UFC Vegas 11
Or: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, September 19. The preliminary eight-fight card starts at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN +, with the main six-fight card starting at 8 p.m. also on ESPN +.
Colby Covington contre Tyron Woodley
I can’t wait for Tyron Woodley to prove me wrong.
As much as I would like this to be a five-round competitive main event, a culmination of one of the most organic feuds in recent memory, I firmly believe that Colby Covington is tailor-made to deal with the current version of ” The chosen one. He’s one of the best fighters in the welterweight division at using pressure and volume, two of Woodley’s weaknesses even before his recent troubles. In a tactical battle, Woodley excels; when his opponents dictate the pace and tone of the fight, he hesitates.
If Woodley can’t get fired for this fight with Covington, there’s no man who’s gone who can get him to put out a vintage performance. Everything about Covington is designed to motivate Woodley. I admit being terrible when it comes to factoring in intangibles (by their very nature, impossible to measure), so I can’t assume that Woodley will magically return to vintage form on Saturday simply because he sees red. It’s a reasonable narrative if you predict a Woodley win.
However, I am not. Covington can match Woodley’s fight and has some extra equipment in the stand-up that Woodley hasn’t shown in some time. Even though Woodley gets off to a promising start, I see Covington outliving him and winning a decision.
To choose: Covington
Donald Cerrone contre Niko Price
Don’t count “Cowboy” yet.
Yes, four straight losses is a bad image for any fighter, let alone a fighter who turned 37 earlier this year and is about 10 years older when counting combat sports mileage. And putting Donald Cerrone in the cage with one of the toughest hitters at 170 pounds doesn’t sound like a balm for his worries.
If it comes to skill, Cerrone has the edge over Niko Price when it comes to striking diversity, full play and experience. The two have been in wars, but Price has yet to be tested against the best in the UFC like Cerrone. Look at Cerrone’s losses over the past three years. It’s a list of former champions and top contenders from two divisions.
Price is a talented fighter with great energy and that will take him far in his career. Who knows, maybe one day he will find himself playing the role of “former statesman” like Cerrone. Here and now, Cerrone is the best fighter and he’s going to break his slip at Price’s expense.
To choose: Cerrone
Khamzat Chimaev c. Gérald Meerschaert
Here it is, the first major test of Khamzat Chimaev’s career.
As for John Phillips and Rhys McKee, two fighters ill-equipped to deal with Chimaev’s elite wrestling, it behooves Gerald Meerschaert to be a litmus test for the Crown Prince of Fight Island. “GM3” has a well-respected ground game and if Chimaev does not treat him as such, he will become Meerschaert’s 24th victim.
What can Chimaev do to avoid this fate? Fight his ass like he did. Say what you want Phillips and McKee to be outclassed, but Chimaev did what you’re supposed to do and walked through them like they’re barely there. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s comparisons are legitimate. It takes a special type of wrestler not only to have an explosive shot, but to be able to go to your second, third, and fourth options looking for a takedown. Chimaev goes through these progressions like a star quarterback and when he takes the fight to the ground he maintains his aggressiveness.
That said, I think he will need to focus more on control if he argues with Meerschaert on the mat, because as mentioned, Meerschaert can end in different ways there. Although he is tall, he does not have the sparkle that Chimaev showed, which suggests that if Chimaev can keep pace for three laps, it will be difficult for Meerschaert to stand up or attack. from the back.
This fight is going to reveal a lot about Chimaev, both in terms of talent and the distance he has to cover before he is truly ready for elite competition.
Chimaev by decision.
To choose: Chimaev
Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann
Count me among those who still believe in the Johnny Walker’s hype.
His dynamic hitting is what pushed him up the light heavyweight ranks and is what will bring him the victory over Ryan Spann. “Superman” has dangerous hands, but he also has defensive shortcomings that cannot be ignored. If he can be caught off guard by veterans like Sam Alvey and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, what will happen when he gets Walker’s quick punches and throws flying knees at him?
To be fair, Walker has some defensive question marks as well, so this game will likely be decided by whoever makes a mistake first. If you believe Walker learned and matured from his first two losses in the UFC, then one can only expect him to increase from there. It should be an entertaining battle that ends with Walker’s return to the positive side of the highlights reel.
To choose: Walker
Mackenzie Dern c. Randa Markos
Randa Markos’ streak ends here.
For those of you unfamiliar with what the Randa Markos streak is all about, the veteran strawweight has sort of passed six and a half with no back-to-back wins or losses. Considering the volatile nature of MMA, this seems like a statistical impossibility. And yet it is so.
She’s coming off a loss to Amanda Ribas and I expect Mackenzie Dern to beat her as well to break Markos’ bizarre pattern. Dern has shown raw ability in her stand-up, and if she polishes that part of her game with Jason Parillo, you can expect a substantial improvement from when we first saw her. Add his jiu-jitsu to the top shelf and it’s a tough draw for Markos.
Expect the Canadian Mill to make Dern’s life difficult from the start. She’s been in this game too long to be intimidated by anyone, even a fighter with Dern’s credentials. When it comes time to shift to another gear, I think it’s Dern who asserts himself on the pitch and becomes just the second fighter to subdue Markos.
To choose: Of the
Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart
Do you lean towards the constant Darren Stewart or the unpredictable Kevin Holland? At his best, Holland is a lot of fun to watch, and here’s why I think he’s eliminating Stewart.
Holland is just starting to reach his peak and you can see in his last few fights that his talent has caught up with his skills. Although he’s always a new face in the UFC, Holland has fought over 20 times with his best days ahead of him. He has tightened his shot and seems to be making better decisions about when to mix his stand-up skills with his grappling.
This mixture of techniques is frightening. Luckily for Stewart, he has his own tools to deal with the threat from Holland. He’s good at ranged combat and also knows how to initiate the occasional takedown to disrupt his opponent’s pace. What’s going to give him a headache is Holland’s extraordinary reach, an advantage Holland brings in most of its fights.
If Stewart can’t turn things around and figure out how to get into Holland, he’s going to be split up. As it stands, I’m predicting Holland will catch him with something coming up and subdue him.
To choose: Hollande
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