Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight rivals Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley will finally clash TONIGHT (Sat., Sept. 19, 2020) at UFC Vegas 11 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The personal build up to this fight has been political, racial and at times, downright ugly. There is little doubt that these two genuinely very much want to punch one another in the face, yet there’s so much more on the line than any beef. After giving Kamaru Usman his toughest test to date but ultimately coming up short, Covington is on the hunt for a second title shot. Meanwhile, Woodley is desperate to prove that his days in the sun are not yet over, as the 38-year-old former champion simply has not performed at all in his last two bouts.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Robbie Lawler (UFC on ESPN 5), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 225), Demian Maia (UFC Fight Night 119), Dong Hyun Kim (UFC Fight Night 111), Bryan Barberena (UFC on FOX 22)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 245), Warlley Alves (UFC 194)
Keys to Victory: Covington is constant. He does not stop ever, whether we are referring to his stuttered trash talk or his actual fight style. In the Octagon, Covington is a nightmare opponent, an endless barrage of punches and wrestling transitions.
Even with both men coming into the cage following defeats, there is a clear advantage in momentum and confidence for “Chaos.” The Welterweight antagonist has been performing quite well, whereas Woodley is infamously struggling to pull the trigger and has lost 50-consecutive minutes of combat.
The fight may not have started yet, but Covington is in the lead! There is absolutely no reason why he should allow Woodley even a second to grow comfortable inside that Octagon. At the literal first bell, I’d like to see Covington flick out a jab and shoot for the lead leg.
Covington’s goal here is to force Woodley into his bad habits. If “T-Wood” finds himself jammed into the fence and forced to work damn hard immediately, he may revert back into his defensive shell before either man is breathing heavy. Plus, even if Woodley’s mind is fixed, exhausting his opponent along the fence as much as possible is the original game plan anyway.
Key Wins: Robbie Lawler (UFC 201), Stephen Thompson (UFC 209, UFC 214), Demian Maia (UFC 214), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 183), Darren Till (UFC 228)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 235), Gilbert Burns (UFC on ESPN 9), Rory MacDonald (UFC 174), Jake Shields (UFC 161)
Keys to Victory: Woodley is not a complicated fighter. An extraordinary athlete with tremendous wrestling credentials, Woodley figured out early in his UFC career that his right hand was a pretty uniquely devastating weapon. Over time, Woodley actively wrestled less and less often, looking instead for the knockout.
Also worth-mentioning: it’s much more realistic to be a wrestling-focused fighter at 30 than 38.
Beyond the painfully obvious key of “THROW STRIKES” that Woodley and his coaches are certainly well aware of, footwork is the most important factor. Woodley has always been willing to sit along the fence, but against such a dedicated chain wrestler, that’s risking disaster even if Woodley is more active than ever.
Against Darren Till, Woodley was active with his side-to-side movement and direction changes. If he can replicate that movement, his chance of gaining an angle on Covington and dropping that right hand increase dramatically.
This is a huge fight.
Covington is fighting for his status as a contender. If he wins, a rematch with Usman would sell. Maybe not right away given the crowded state of the 170-pound division, but Covington is at most one more victory away from another shot at gold. In short, a win puts him in great position.
A loss, however? Getting flattened by the former champion would be absolutely devastating to Covington’s position in the division. It’s never good to lose consecutive bouts, but it’s a dramatically worse situation given the prolonged smack talk and bad blood.
As for Tyron Woodley, he’s already being counted out by a quite a large portion of the combat sports world. Many see him as halfway to retirement. This main event slot is perhaps his final chance to prove otherwise, as Woodley is not likely to find himself given another high-profile fight should he come up short a third time.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 11 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 8 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 11, Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley will duel in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?