Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to stage UFC Vegas 11 later TONIGHT (Sat., Sept 19, 2020) from inside UFC APEX, In Las Vegas, Nevada, streaming exclusively on ESPN+. In the main event, former Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, and ex-interim titleholder, Colby Covington, will finally get the chance to put hands on one another after years of back-and-forth trash talk.
A fight between Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington is one fight fans have been wanting for some time now, as the two men obviously share beef dating back to their days as training partners. To some, we got this fight a few years too late. And I get it, it would have had much more intrigue when their hatred was at its peak and when “Chosen One” was sitting at the top of the division as champion and Colby was interim title holder. Flash forward to present time and neither men holds a title, but the bitterness between the two is still going strong. Furthermore, it still has the potential to go five rounds despite there not being a title on the line. So when you take belts out of the equation, there really isn’t all that much that has changed. And to some, the fight is happening at the right time.
On to the fight itself. This matchup is as even as it gets. Both men have great wrestling and both can strike and have a tremendous gas tank. The only advantages I see swaying towards the other is that Woodley has a power advantage in the striking department. Meanwhile, Covington has more volume in his attack. That being said, something has got to give. Woodley is staring down the barrel of a three-fight losing streak, so dropping a third — and to Covington, no less — would be catastrophic for his hopes of ever climbing back into the title picture. As for Colby, he is coming off a championship loss to Kamaru Usman, so with an impressive win over “Chosen One” he has the opportunity to get back to the big dance sooner, rather than later.
It’s pretty hard to complain about this event. It’s been a while that the promotion stacked an ESPN+ card like this. Furthermore, it wasn’t rocked by injuries or too many COVID-19 cases except for this one.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
After Luiz Eduardo Garagorri tested positive for COVID-19 his fight against Mirsad Bektic was cancelled. As a result, UFC newcomer Damon Jackson will step in on short notice to face Bektic.
Mickey Gall was forced out of his scheduled fight against Miguel Baeza with an undisclosed injury and was subsequently replaced by Jeremiah Wells. Days after the booking, the fight was cancelled for undisclosed reasons.
Sarah Alpar will look to pump some new blood into the women’s Bantamweight division when she faces off against Jessica Rose Clark. While Alpar may not be a household name just yet, she can get there if she picks up some impressive wins in a hurry.
TJ Laramie is a streaking prospect who also found success on “The Contender Series.” Winner of four straight, Laramie will get his first official taste of UFC action when he battles Darrick Minner, who didn’t have the start to his UFC career he hoped for after losing his debut fight to Grant Dawson this past February.
Jerome Rivera, 25, is looking to make a statement in his first UFC fight when he takes on longtime MMA veteran, Tyson Nam. Rivera has already faced UFC-level competition, and though things didn’t go his way against Brandon Royval and Roberto Sanchez, now that he’s officially under the UFC banner a win over Nam would be huge for the promising contender.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard will feature a Flyweight bout between Jordan Espinosa and David Dvorak. Winner of 14 straight, Dvorak is looking for another notch on his resume with an impressive outing against Espinosa, who is just 1-2 in his last three fights. Also, Tyson Nam will finally get back into the cage after having his previous fight cancelled, when he faces off against UFC newcomer, Jerome Rivera. An alum of Dana White’s “Contender Series,” Rivera is in search of his fourth straight win, while Nam is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time in a year.
An interesting Bantamweight bout between Irwin Rivera and Andre Ewell will also go down on a busy “Prelims” section of the event. Rivera is just 1-1 thus far in his young UFC career, while Ewell is a respectable 3-2. Both men have a long way to go before they start getting the recognition they’d like, so a win here is huge for either man.
Furthermore, Jessica Rose Clark will look to avoid her third-straight loss inside the Octagon when she faces off against Sarah Alpar, winner of three straight. Alpar earned her way via the “Contender Series,” so picking up a win over a longtime veteran like Clark would be huge for her stock.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Woodley needs a win in the worst way. After dropping two in a row at the hands of current champion Kamaru Usman and No. 1 contender Gilbert Burns, “Chosen One” can’t afford a third-straight defeat. It’s not like the promotion will cut him should that occur, but it will affect his championship prospects greatly. The 170-pound weight class is as stacked as ever and trying to dig out of a 0-3 hole will only make getting to a title fight that much tougher. Moving up will be an option, but he will be at a distinct size disadvantage with the monsters at 185 pounds. In short, Tyron needs a win here to not only avoid falling further down the ladder, but to avoid having to hear Covington gloat about the win for months — if not years — on end. But here is the thing most people somehow fail to realize: Woodley has lost 10 straight rounds. That’s right, in both of his losses to Usman and Burns he was flat-out dominated from pillar to post. That’s a far cry from the man who claimed to be the greatest 170-pound champion UFC has ever had. Sorry, Woodley, but that distinction will always belong to Georges St-Pierre.
We are going to stray from tradition and include two fighters on this list, as Donald Cerrone will look to get back on track after taking perhaps the longest break of his career (nine months ) when he faces off against Niko Price. He will look to avoid his fifth-straight loss. Yes, you read that correctly, “Cowboy” has lost his last four fights and hasn’t won since May of 2019. Like Woodley, Cerrone will likely not be released as it seems he will be with UFC until the day he chooses to retire, but five losses in a row won’t be a good look for one of the most beloved fighters in the history of the sport. That means big fights against the likes of McGregor and Justin Gaethje will likely never come around again. And who knows, if he does end up suffering his fifth-straight defeat, “Cowboy” may shock the world and retire from the fight game.
Interest Level: 8.5 of 10
This event carries with it a ton of intrigue, as several questions will be answered. Among them is whether or not Woodley can turn it around, or if Covington was right all along in his constant trash talk about him when he claimed repeatedly that he would school him in training. But aside from the main event, the rest of the main card is highly-appealing. We’ve already talked about the co-main event between Cerrone and Price, now lets look at the rest of fights.
It’s safe to say that other than the headlining bout, the fight most people are looking forward to is Khamzat Chimaev vs Gerald Meerschaert. “Borz” burst onto the UFC scene this past summer after winning back-to-back fights in the span of 10 days on “Fight Island.” Just like that, the combat world — Dana White included — was enamored with Chimaev, who requested another quick turnaround. While he didn’t get it, he was double booked, a rare instance in the sport. Indeed, the promotion revealed that Khazmat would be facing Demian Maia in October, but that he would also be fighting prior to that. Days later it was announced that he would be facing Meerschaert at this event. You can understand why Meerschaert felt disrespected, feeling as if he was being counted out long before fight night. A win is huge for Chimaev since it will keep his hype and momentum going. On the flip side, if Meerschaert can derail the hype train it will raise his stock a few points.
Speaking of hype trains, Johnny Walker was at one time in the same shoes as the aforementioned Chimaev. After storming into the Octagon with three -straight, first-round knockouts, Walker was hit with a hard shot of combat reality, losing two straight. One of those was via knockout at the hands of Corey Anderson, and the other was a decision loss to Nikita Krylov. And just like that, no longer was Walker considered a threat to Jon Jones since his stock took a big tumble and all of the hype was gone. Those are the dangers of a fighter being pushed too fast. Walker will look to avoid suffering a third-straight defeat when he takes on Ryan Spann.
Mackenzie Dern was another hyped fighter that had her balloon deflated early on in her UFC career before she ever got much momentum going. In her third fight inside the Octagon, the BJJ ace was defeated by Amanda Ribas, ending her hype. She bounced back nicely seven months later with a big win over Hannah Cifers. Now, she will look to get her win streak going again by taking out longtime veteran Rana Markos. Fighting inside the Octagon since 2014, Markos has simply been unable to gain any momentum that will catapult her to a legit contender. That’s because since 2013 she has not won or lost consecutive fights. A rare accomplishment to say the least. Markos lost to Amanda Ribas in her last outing so if tradition continues, Dern is in trouble.
Rounding out the main card is a fight between hard-hitting rising contender Kevin Holland, who returns to action in search of his third-straight win, and Darren Stewart, winner of three of his last four. Both men are looking to climb the ranks of the Middleweight division so a win is crucial here. More so for Stewart, who has been fighting for the promotion for some time now and just hasn't been able to get over the hump.
All in all this card almost feels pay-per-view (PPV) worthy. The drama, the intrigue, the rivalry, the anticipation that this card has just feels big. And if a title were on the line the promotion could have very well done it as a PPV. I mean, there have been worse fight cards that we were asked to pay $60 for.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 11 Main Event on ESPN+:
170 lbs.: Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley
UFC Vegas 11 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price
185 lbs.: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gerald Meerschaert
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos
185 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart
UFC Vegas 11 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Mirsad Bektic vs. Damon Jackson
125 lbs.: Mara Romero Borella vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
125 lbs.: David Dvorak vs. Jordan Espinosa
135 lbs.: Sarah Alpar vs. Jessica-Rose Clark
135 lbs.: Journey Newson vs. Randy Costa
135 lbs.: Andre Ewell vs. Irwin Rivera
145 lbs.: TJ Laramie vs. Darrick Minner
135 lbs.: Tyson Nam vs. Jerome Rivera
***Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to drastic change because of the various global quarantine restrictions.***
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