UFC 245: Champions and Contenders
UFC 245 this weekend from the T-Mobile Arena, Nevada boasts three exciting championship title holders, with the main event seeing two wrestlers face off as Usman defends his title against Covington.
Kamaru Usman v Colby Covington
Welterweight Main Event
This UFC is headlined by the reigning champion Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman facing the challenger Colby “Chaos” Covington. Both fighters are on extensive winning streaks and many would argue that Covington has earned his shot. These American Welterweights have an identical record of wins and losses. They are of similar age with Usman holding the 1-inch height and substantial 4-inch reach advantage.
Usman has achieved 6 knockout victories, 1 via submission and a majority 8 via decision with only one loss to date. He comes from a strong wrestling background and countless accolades at college level. Usman’s excellent wrestling pedigree clearly comes across in his fighting style. He has a dominant and offensive approach, making good use of the clinch and exhibiting a range of impressive take downs in his battles. His most recent fight against Tyron Woodley is a great example of his using wrestling technique to control his opponents. Usman combines this with his strikes, favouring overhand punches. With this fighting style and knockout power, Usman’s greater reach may give him the physical edge against his opponent.
Covington also shares a wrestling background; he was state champion at high school and nationally at college. Covington’s finishing record is not as strong overall with 2 knockout victories, a majority 8 via decision though 5 via submission. Ground game seems to be his strength, with the Rear-Naked Choke his firm favourite. Covington also uses his impressive wrestling technique to enforce a dominant style of fighting which he combines with his strikes, often launching them from a distance to get close to his opponents where he often likes to control the back. This was clear in his domination of Rafael Dos Anjos, reaching in with strikes and immediately going to control him against the cage, consistently aiming for that classic wrestling back control and taking the decision win.
Two warriors will face-off with very similar backgrounds and styles. Both are incredibly dominant fighters, but Covington does shoot his strikes from afar and will have a reach advantage against a fighter sharing his wrestling specialism. The reigning champion Usman therefore, may well be the one to take this victory.
Covington does shoot his strikes from afar and will have a reach advantage against a fighter sharing his wrestling specialism.
Max Holloway v Alexander Volkanovski
Featherweight Co-Main Event
For this Co-Main Event, Max “Blessed” Holloway plans to continue his reign as Featherweight champion and will have to face Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski to retain it. These fighters also have similar records though Holloway has suffered more losses. Holloway had in fact been on a 13-fight winning streak before his risky move up a weight class and defeat at the hands of Dustin Poirier for the second time. Holloway soon defeated Frankie Edgar back in his own division to retain the Featherweight belt. Volkanovski has only suffered one loss in his entire career, he’s however a relatively recent recruit to the UFC, having joined late in 2016. Holloway is 4 years Volkanovski’s junior with a considerable 4.7-inch height advantage, whilst interestingly Volkanovski actually holds the 2.4-inch reach advantage, which may affect Holloway’s strategy.
Despite his recent loss, Holloway never in fact lost his Featherweight title and continues to make his mark. He holds 2 submission victories, 9 via decision and a majority 10 via Knockout, thus being known as the Knock Out king of his division. Most of his decision victories occurred earlier on in his career with his loss to Conor McGregor seeming to ignite an evolution in his skillset, expanding on his expert background in Muay Thai and Kickboxing whilst developing his grappling skills. With this background in mind, Holloway knows how to land his strikes dynamically, making use of great accuracy, timing and effective counter-striking strategy. His second fight against Jose Aldo demonstrated well his impressive head movement and calm control of an opponent with strikes, finally ending the battle with a knockout.
His Australian opponent Volkanovski started training in Greco-Roman wrestling from an early age, switching his focus to play rugby, winning the Australian Rugby League’s Mick Cronin medal. This background could account for his incredible strength, body control and stamina when he made the move into combat sport. He holds 3 wins via submission, 6 via decision and an impressive 11 knockout victories. Volkanovski is a power house who favours the ground and pound and combines his strikes with a strong double leg take down game. He also uses effective counter timing in his strikes with great accuracy which often gets him the knockout. This was seen in his recent fight against Chad Mendes, where despite being on the backfoot for most of the fight he finally caught Mendes with a Knockout punch in the second round.
Both fighters are clear Knock out artists who have developed their game. Though Holloway is certainly in a position to control the fight with his dynamic striking, he is at a disadvantage in reach and in light of Volkanovski superior wrestling, this might just sway the fight in Volkanovski’s favour.
Amanda Nunes v Germaine de Randamie
Women Bantamweight Title Bout
Here is a title bout to talk about, with the reigning champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes having defeated every great name set before her in her last 9 fights with relative ease, including the renowned Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. The contender, Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie has in fact faced Nunes before early in her MMA career. Within 4 minutes of the very first round, Randamie was mounted and met a vicious elbow knockout at the hands of Nunes. After this defeat, she did not return to the cage for 2 years. No doubt Randamie has been waiting for this shot at redemption for a long time.
Nunes is a prolific powerhouse who is now considered by many as the face of women’s MMA. She has successfully defended her title 5 times, and all but one of those victories has been via Knockout. The majority 13 out of her 28 victories has been via knockout followed by 3 submission and 2 decision wins. Nunes fights to finish. Her record is unsurprising considering her diverse martial background, starting karate at 4, boxing at 16 and later competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She shocked the world when she knocked out cold the famed Ronda Rousey within 48 seconds and took the title. Cyborg (Cristiane Justino) met a similar end. Nunes is an aggressive striker, she uses the clinch well and knows how to land those clean head shots. In her most recent fight against Holly Holm, the kickboxing queen herself, Nunes surprisingly finished her with a clean right roundhouse kick knockout to the head.
Compared to Nunes, Randamie is inexperienced in MMA, with half the number of victories and only one less loss. However, she came from an incredibly strong Kickboxing background herself, winning 46 fights undefeated which included an impressive 30 knockouts. Randamie is in fact 4 years older than Nunes, but she does have the physical advantages of 1-inch greater height and 2-inch greater reach. In MMA she has the record of 4 Knockout victories and 5 via decision. She has not proved herself to be as strong a finisher as her opponent but her own striking pedigree can’t be denied and she can hold her own on the ground. She can also maintain pressure in the clinch as shown by her impressive knee Knockout of Anna Elmrose.
Two experienced strikers face-off for the second time. Despite Randamie’s background and physical advantages, Nunes has risen to the top for a reason. She has greater power and reactions and it is likely Nunes will continue her reign as champion.