After a bloody weekend in our Nation’s Capital, the UFC returns home to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV with a stacked card featuring three title fights with belts at stake. The title fights get underway with the third to last fight of the evening when Amanda Nunes defends her bantamweight title against Germaine de Ramie. Following that fight, the co-main event features two featherweights in Max Halloway defending his belt against Alexander Volkanovski. The main event Saturday night, which should be one of the best main events of the year, features welterweight Kamaru Usman (-182) taking on Colby Covington (+148) for all the welterweight marbles. In what is the last big UFC card of the year, let’s take a deeper look at the main event to see where we can find some value.
Kamaru Usman (15-0-1) vs Colby Covington (15-0-1)
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on December 13, 2019.
Currently ranked as the No. 10 pound-for-pound UFC fighter in the world, current UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman has yet to lose in the UFC since making his debut in July 2015. A former Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner, Usman is a decorated collegiate wrestler and became the 174 lbs NCAA Division II champion to finish out his college career. His last time in the octagon as the co-main event at UFC 235 in March, Usman beat Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision to claim the UFC Welterweight Championship for the first time. Unanimous decision wins have been the trademark of Usman’s time in the UFC, as eight of nine of his fights with the company have ended in such fashion. While Usman is often the dominant wrestler when he steps into the octagon, this weekend at UFC 245 he is in for a different kind of animal in an opponent that is equally impressive on the ground.
On the other side of the octagon, former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington will be looking for his eighth consecutive win, most recently defeating Robbie Lawler in August. Like Usman, Covington is a purebred wrestler who relies on submissions and his ability to outlast his opponent inside the cage. Also like Usman, Covington has ended six of his last nine fights by unanimous decision, including his last six straight. In his most recent fight against Lawler, Covington set a UFC record throwing 541 strikes over the course of the five rounds, which just exemplifies Covington’s relentless engine. The ultimate trash talker, this event is by far the biggest event of Covington’s career and a win here would propel him to UFC stardom given his brash persona and ability to get attention outside, and now inside the octagon. A loss here, however, would be devastating for Covington, who has spent much of the weeks leading up to the fight bad-mouthing UFC President Dana White and the entire organization for being “underpaid and undervalued” since he came into the company.
While on paper these two fighters have very similar fighting styles, Usman is the more aggressive and accurate striker who uses his wiry frame to tag opponents when he’s not taking them to the ground. Another area Usman’s long frame comes in handy is his takedown defense, something he will surely need against the elite wrestler Covington. In his 10 UFC fights, Usman has yet to have been taken to the ground by an opponent but will face one of his toughest challenges to date in Covington who averages 5.7 takedowns per 15 minutes inside the octagon. The edge in this one for me goes to Usman and his ability to keep his opponents at bay with his long reach and elite takedown defense. While it’s tough to see either of these fighters getting caught in a submission, I like it to go the distance and Usman to do more of the damage.