After Yoel Romero missed weight for his middleweight championship showdown with current 185-pound king Robert Whittaker, there will only be one title fight later tonight (Sat., June 9, 2018) at UFC 225 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
That lone championship scrap will be between former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and 170-pound contender Colby Covington for the interim welterweight strap.
It’s one heck of a showdown, especially considering both fighters have combined for a 5-0 record over the past 12 months. That includes RDA’s unanimous decision win over former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and Covington’s dominant performance opposite Demian Maia in Brazil.
In order to understand what sort of fight we might see tonight at UFC 225, we take a closer look at the keys to victory for both dos Anjos and Covington.
Rafael dos Anjos
1. Establish presence inside...
It doesn’t matter who dos Anjos has faced off against in the past, he’s relied heavily on his ability to close the distance and work inside. Whether it’s shooting in for takedowns against Anthony Pettis to win the UFC lightweight championship or cutting off Lawler on the feet to land ferocious combinations, RDA is at his best when he’s in close and exchanging in a phone booth.
Against a top-notch wrestler like Covington, dos Anjos must be patient with his entries. Over-extending for a clinch or strike could leave the Brazilian susceptible to a return takedown. But once he’s inside, look for heavy body punches from RDA in effort to slow Covington down for the later rounds.
2. Lead the dance...
Whether or not RDA is able to establish his striking or relies more on an inside clinch game, he must do everything in his power to lead the way. If dos Anjos was a counter striker at heart he’d gladly step out of the way and let Covington take control, but that is not the type of fighter that the Brazilian is.
Instead, he must take Covington out of his game and force “Chaos” to fight from behind. Covington hasn’t lost many rounds inside of the Octagon and doesn’t particularly possess amazing finishing ability, so forcing him to fight from behind will do wonders for RDA down the stretch.
1. Gain respect on the feet...
Covington does possess decent striking ability on the feet, but he does most of his damage via ground-and-pound. We did see “Chaos” land some good punches against Maia last year, but he’s going to need more to gain the respect of a standup killer like dos Anjos.
Whether it comes from range (Covington possesses a two-inch reach advantage) or in close along the cage, Covington must prove to RDA that he’s more than just a wrestler. Considering Lawler wasn’t able to do much damage to dos Anjos on the feet, Covington may have his work cut out for him.
But keep in mind, dos Anjos has been finished twice before inside of the Octagon, most recently by Eddie Alvarez back in 2016.
2. Control and score...
If Covington is going to win this fight he’s going to have to control the action and score at every possible turn. That seems like a typical gameplan for a grinder like Covington, but it’s especially key when matched up against an all-around wrecking ball like dos Anjos.
Much like Covington, RDA is used to running the show. He’s rarely out-muscled or out-hustled, making him a tough opponent to get out in front of. But if Covington can win some early rounds and play leader, it will be easier for him to catch dos Anjos sleeping, take him down, and score points in the fashion he’s accustomed to.
Prediction: RDA via fourth-round TKO
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 225 fight card below, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.