Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to stage its final pay-per-view (PPV) event of 2019, and it’s going to be a big one. Indeed, UFC 245 will do down later tonight (Sat., Dec. 14, 2019) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a headlining act that will feature Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, defending his title for the first time against Colby Covington. In the co-main event, Max Holloway puts his Featherweight strap on the line against Alexander Volkanovoski, while Amanda Nunes defends her women’s Bantamweight strap against Germaine de Randamie.
It’s been a long road to get to Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington, but we’re finally here. According to “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Covington has turned down fighting him on four separate occasions, and UFC President Dana White will partially back that up. Covington hasn’t had the best relationship with White and Co., so you can just imagine how hard the negotiations can be when trying to get “Chaos” to compete. But things obviously went well this time around.
We’re not going to confuse the rivalry between Covington and Usman with that of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, or Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, but there is some friction there. And as cringy as Covington’s trash talk is, he is trying his best to hype this fight ... for better or worse.
He will also be coming in with a big chip on his shoulder after he was officially relieved of the interim champion tag, though he will be quick to say he is still just that. But if he can hand Usman his first loss inside the Octagon, he no longer has to pretend, laying claim to being the baddest fighter in the most stacked division under UFC’s umbrella.
That said, it’s far from an easy task — Usman has been unbeatable throughout his UFC run. “The Nigerian Nightmare” has won 10 straight fights inside the Octagon, grinding out some of the best including Leon Edwards, Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia. He really impressed the masses by absolutely dominating former champion, Tyron Woodley, at UFC 235 earlier this year to claim the title (see it). It was a five-round annihilation courtesy of Usman, illustrating just how dominant he can be when he’s on his game. And he’ll need to bring that same energy with him tonight because Covington has a tremendous pace and gas tank that gives everyone problems.
Holloway has been unstoppable at Featherweight, winning 14-straight fights in the division, which includes winning the title in 2016, and then defending it three times after that. Sure, he had a setback when he came up short against Dustin Poirier in a Lightweight title fight at UFC 236 (see it), but the fact remains, “Blessed” is the best at 145 pounds. His last loss was to Conor McGregor way back in 2013, and he has been on a tear ever since, making it look easy along the way. Holloway is eyeing a permanent move up to 155 pounds, but at this point there really is no need, as there are several other contenders he can face that will make for interesting matchups at 145 pounds such as Chan Sung Jung, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez. Of course, he has more than his hands full later this evening against Volkanovski before he can start eyeing any of those other men.
Volkanovski has been on a wild tear of late, winning his last 17 fights to go 20-1 overall in his professional career. While fighting for UFC, “The Great” quickly rose the ranks, and outperformed big names such as Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo to get to the big dance. While he may be the shorter of the two, Volkanovski does enjoy a reach advantage over Holloway, so “Blessed” won’t be able to keep him at bay with his jab as he’s done over the course of his career. That can be bad news for Holloway because Volkanovski also possesses some great wrestling to go along with his knockout power. The stocky scrapper can do it all, and is determined to insert himself in the G.O.A.T conversation at 145 pounds if he can hand “Blessed” his first loss since 2013.
Nunes is the greatest female fighter UFC has ever had ... and it’s not even close. Yes, Ronda Rousey was perhaps the most influential, and Cris Cyborg the most feared, but “Lioness” starched them both in the very first round without barely breaking a sweat. And let’s not forget what she did to former champions Holly Holm and Miesha Tate (highlights). Did I mention she also beat Valentina Shevchenko, the current UFC women’s Flyweight champion? Bottom line, Nunes is one of the best fighters ever, man or woman. And the scary part is she is still in her prime, which is bad news for anyone standing across from her. With Nunes clearing out both the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions, the champ-champ will have to start resorting to rematches, as is the case when she faces Germaine de Randamie later tonight.
Nunes defeated “Iron Lady” back in 2013 in what was just her second fight inside the Octagon. “Lioness” has obviously improved leaps and bounds since then, so she is a much different fighter this time around. As for de Randamie, she is still dangerous in her own right, winning five in a row since coming up short to Nunes. In her last fight, she derailed the Aspen Ladd hype train in just 16 seconds, proving that she has knockout power in her hands thanks to her years spent as a professional kickboxer. Whether or not she can get revenge on Nunes is another story.
It’s pretty hard to complain about the event with a stacked main card with three title fights and a pretty good slate of “Prelims” undercard action, too. We don’t get these very often, but UFC obviously had to end its 2019 PPV campaign with a bang.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Sergio Pettis was set to face Kai Kara-France in an interesting Flyweight showdown. But after “The Phenom” opted not to sign on the dotted line in favor of testing the free agent market, he ultimately signed with Bellator MMA and Brandon Moreno stepped in to fill the void he left behind.
The card was to be even bigger before Santiago Ponzinibbio was forced out his 170-pound matchup against Robbie Lawler because of a staph infection. Instead of trying to find a replacement for “Ruthless,” he was removed from the card all together.
Undefeated Punahele Soriano (6-0) will make his official UFC debut after impressing on Dana White’s “Contender Series.” He will face Oskar Piechota, who has had a rough stretch as of late, losing his last two fights inside the Octagon. Prior to that, Piechota was undefeated (11-0), so he does have the skills and talent to spoil Soriano’s debut.
Chase Hooper, 20, will bring his talents to the Octagon for the first time to face Daniel Teymur at Featherweight. Undefeated at 8-0-1, Hooper caught the eye of UFC matchmakers after impressing on the “Contender Series,” as well as Titan FC. “The Teenage Dream” has showed promise, but he will have a tough task ahead of him against Teymur despite a bumpy start to his UFC career (1-3).
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The underbelly of the event will be headlined by a highly-intriguing Welterweight matchup that will see Mike Perry face off against Geoff Neal in what is sure-to-be a hard-hitting affair. Perry will be making his return to action after suffering a badly broken nose in his previous bout against Vicente Luque this past August. “Platinum” has had a rough road as of late, going just 2-4 in his last six outings.
Neal, meanwhile, has won six straight, including all four of his fights under UFC’s bright lights. During his streak, he has scored four knockout wins. So that means he is tailor-made for Perry, who also prefers to throw bombs. I will be surprised if this fight goes the distance.
Also, long-time veteran Matt Brown will return to action after a two-year break following a torn ACL to face off against Ben Saunders. Brown has always been a fan-favorite thanks to his exciting fighting style. That said, it will be interesting to see if his layoff will affect him. Saunders, meanwhile, has lost three straight, so he needs to bring the heat against a dangerous opponent.
Also, middleweight contender Ian Heinisch will look to get back on track after having his five-fight win streak snapped by Derek Brunson when he meets Omari Akhmedov in the center of the cage. Akhmedov is a talented fighter who is more than capable of handing Heinisch his second-straight loss. In case you didn’t know, he has been fighting for UFC since 2013, but hasn’t started making much noise up until his recent win streak, which is up to four. If he can score a win over Heinisch, it will give him a huge boost in the rankings.
Brandon Moreno is still searching for his first win since re-joining UFC, though he’s going to have a tough task doing that against Kai Kara-France, winner of eight straight. In women’s Bantamweight action, Irene Aldana will face off against Ketlen Vieira, while Jessica Eye looks for her first win after getting knocked out by Valentina Shevchenko when she meets Viviane Araujo.
To learn more about all of the “Prelims” undercard action click here and here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
If we’re going strictly by wins and losses, Ben Saunders needs a victory in the worst way. Loser of three straight, Saunders hasn’t scored a victory inside the Octagon since early 2018. He will look to get back on track against the always-dangerous Matt Brown, who is coming in after a two-year break. This is Saunders’ third stint with the promotion, and a fourth-straight loss won’t do him any favors when it comes time for the promotion to thin the herd.
Interest Level: 10/10
Aside from the trio of title fights, the main card will be rounded out by several intriguing Bantamweight showdowns. Former UFC Featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, will make the inexplicable drop down to 135 pounds to face off against Marlon Moraes. More than a few eyebrows were raised when pictures surfaced of Aldo looking rather frail during his weight cut, which is a hard task to say the least as he already had a tough cut down to 145 pounds.
Nevertheless, Aldo hit his mark (watch it), but it remains to be seen if the toll it took on his body will linger into the fight. And it won’t be good if it does, as Moraes is a natural 135-pounder with heavy hands. Aldo needs a win here to prevent him from falling further down, or his 135-pound experiment could be one and done. Sure, he can always go back up to 145 pounds, but getting back to the title will be a tough task because Holloway — for now — is still at the top and he’s already knocked out the Brazilian on two separate occasions.
Moraes, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back after failing to capture the vacant 135-pound title after being knocked out by current champ-champ Henry Cejudo earlier this year. If he can take out his fellow countrymen in impressive fashion he could set himself up nicely for a rematch upon “Triple C’s” return. Moraes has always been one of the best at Bantamweight, but has come up short in his big opportunities thus far inside the Octagon. Taking out a legend like Aldo is a sure-fire way to turn things around.
Also, Urijah Faber will look to make it two in a row when he returns to face Petr Yan in the opening fight of the main card. “The California Kid” ended his retirement earlier this year, knocking out Ricky Simon in his return bout (see it). This next challenge, though, will be a bit tougher as Yan is on an eight-fight win streak and has yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon. Yan was trying to make some noise earlier this year in hopes of landing a title fight, but with Cejudo on ice, Yan had to go back to work. This is an intriguing fight as we get to see if Faber still has what it takes to hang with the up-and-coming stars, or if Yan can have a breakout performance that will put him over the top.
We are in for a stacked slate of big championship fights, which could very well see belts change hands more than once ... so sit back and enjoy the show!
UFC 245 Full Fight Card:
UFC 245 ESPN+ PPV Main Event:
170 lbs.: UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
UFC 245 ESPN+ PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski
135 lbs.: UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie
135 lbs.: Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes
135 lbs.: Urijah Faber vs. Petr Yan
UFC 245 ESPN2 ‘Prelims’ Card (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Mike Perry vs. Geoff Neal
135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Ketlen Vieira
185 lbs.: Omari Akhmedov vs. Ian Heinisch
170 lbs.: Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders
UFC 245 ESPN+/Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Card (6:15 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Chase Hooper vs. Daniel Teymur
125 lbs.: Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Moreno
125 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Viviane Araujo
185 lbs.: Oskar Piechota vs. Punahele Soriano
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 245 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 245: “Usman vs. Covington” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.