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UFC Vegas 11 Fallout: What Next For Colby? Two Legends To Retire?

The most stacked card of the year from top to bottom didn’t fail to deliver as we saw 10 finishes and a competitive draw from 14 fights, including the main event between Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley.

Despite promising to let his hands go and knock Covington out, it was more of the same from Woodley in this bout as he was dominated for four rounds before succumbing to a rib injury in the fifth round and being beaten via TKO. While a finish wasn’t on the cards prior to the injury, the result was never in doubt. Colby outmuscled, outworked and out-struck his long-time rival throughout the fight to earn a dominant win over another top name for his resume.

As soon as the referee waved the fight off, with Woodley still on the ground writhing in agony, Colby immediately went to a camera and screamed profanities and threats towards both Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal.

The rivalry between Colby and the rest of the division is well documented, but with Usman and Masvidal it’s personal. Usman was of course the only man to beat him in the UFC, with a fifth-round TKO win in December 2019 in their undisputed title fight which left Covington with a broken jaw. Masvidal and Covington were actually team-mates and friends up until recently, when Colby spoke out against the gym and began trashing Masvidal publicly.

But now a fight against either is possible, although the UFC have already got plans in mind for both opponents. Kamaru Usman is scheduled to fight Gilbert Burns in their re-arranged title fight in December, while the UFC had planned for Masvidal to fight Nate Diaz in a rematch for the BMF title in January.

With both of his preferred opponents otherwise engaged, there are calls for him to take the fight against Leon Edwards. The UK fighter is unbeaten in eight fights and was scheduled to fight Tyron Woodley back in March before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to be cancelled. Since then he has been training and trying to get a fight with anyone that will listen in the Top 5, but has so far been ignored. This could prove to be the perfect opportunity for both men to cement themselves as next up in the title picture.

Edwards started the war on Twitter with a statement after the fight calling Colby out, but Colby hasn’t responded publicly since. Prior to the fight though, Colby answered a question about a potential fight against ‘Rocky’ with a simple one word answer – “Who?”

Dana White said after the fight that there are plenty of options for Covington after his win and they would offer the fight to Masvidal, but it’s too soon to know for sure what is next. A fight between Covington and any of the three possible opponents would surely have all eyes on it and it keeps the division moving forward in the right way.

As for Woodley, it’s time for him to think about walking away. As said prior to the fight, he needed to win to ensure his legacy remained untarnished and after another crushing defeat he’s now in limbo in the division anyway. Having lost 14 consecutive rounds across three fights before then being finished in the 15th. He’s no longer an appealing name to the top of the division after three straight losses, while judging from his own comments he doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper to the new guys making their way up the rankings. UFC President Dana White agreed too, stating in the post-fight presser that he’s come to the end of the road.

Another man who White said he thought needed to have a conversation about the end of his career with was Donald Cerrone. ‘Cowboy’ took on Niko Price in his 53rd professional bout but the fight ended in the first draw of his career, after Price was deducted a point in the first round for two eye pokes. Following the bout ‘Cowboy’ said it should count as a loss because of the point deduction. Taking that into account, that makes it five straight losses for Cerrone. At 37 years old and with so much mileage on his clock, it’s surely time to consider slowing down and potentially stopping.

Cerrone said following the fight that he was going to take the rest of the year off to spend time with his family and new born child and I sincerely hope that it makes him realise that he needs to hang up the gloves. We all know he has no intention of doing so, but he’s in a similar spot to Woodley. He’s no longer in the title picture, he’s no longer seen as a viable opponent for anyone in the upper rankings and he doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper to the up and comers.

The UFC is on the verge of losing two big names at welterweight due to age but they have the opportunity to keep the division burning with some super fights over the next few months.

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Tyson Nam def Jerome Rivera via Knockout, Round 2 (0:34)

A competitive opening round of the night between these two flyweights. Rivera staying at distance for the most part of the round, using heavy inside leg kicks and push kicks to maintain the range while Nam is looking for a big right hand. Nam forcing Rivera against the cage to land a big overhand right but Rivera doing well with his footwork to avoid it for the most part. A solid round that Rivera edges. 10-9 Rivera.

Second round starts and Rivera goes for another leg kick but Nam counters with a huge overhand right that drops Rivera! Some ground and pound is enough and the referee ends it. Big win for Nam!

Andre Ewell def Irwin Rivera via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Really competitive opening round again. Ewell opened up well landing some nice strikes and using his range really well. Rivera adjusts well to the range and starts countering the straight left with a big knee and lands one flush. Rivera shoots in for a takedown and Ewell stuffs it, then searches to take the back. He eventually gets it but Rivera reverses into his guard as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Ewell.

Another competitive round between these two as the pace slows a little bit and Ewell uses his range and superior striking well. Both men throwing one shot at a time for the most part but then Ewell starts ripping the body well. Rivera tries to counter with the same shots but Ewell uses his length to stay out of the distance and land more to take another round, but he’s tired. 20-18 Ewell.

Third round and Ewell using his range well yet again to stay out of distance and danger from Rivera. Nice jabs and kicks by Ewell keeps him active and lets him recover despite him looking tired but Rivera just not quite pushing the way he probably should be. Rivera lands his first takedown of the night with 10 seconds remaining but it should be a comfortable decision win for Ewell.

Randy Costa def Journey Newson via Knockout, Round 1 (0:41)

WOW! Randy Costa and Journey Newson begin the fight with a feeling out process, which ends with Randy Costa throwing a straight left-hand and following it up with a left high kick that knocks Newson out! A couple of follow up blows but this one is over. WOW!

PRELIMS

Darrick Minner def T.J Laramie via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (0:52)

Well that was quick. Minner locks up a clinch and then locks in a quick guillotine and it’s over just like that. Wow.

Jessica-Rose Clark def Sarah Alpar via Knockout, Round 3 (4:21)

Clark opens up the fight with some nice body kicks and strikes from distance, using her legs to keep Alpar’s inevitable takedown attempt away. Alpar throws a one-two and changes levels and shoots for the double leg but Clark defends it very well and after a long battle, it’s Clark who ends up in top position in side control. 10-9 Clark, great confidence boosting first round for her.

Better start to the round for Alpar as she secures two nice takedowns, but Clark gets back to her feet quickly both times. Clark lands a nice knee to the body in the clinch and reverses the position to put Alpar against the cage and then lands a big elbow on the break. Clark enters into a clinch exchange again and is physically just too strong for Alpar. She eventually gets the fight down herself and starts landing heavy ground and pound strikes but the buzzer likely saves Alpar. 20-18 Clark, Alpar needs a finish.

Clark comes out and starts landing big shots once again as Alpar goes for a takedown again. Clark lands big elbows and against the cage as Alpar seemingly sits down in the cage hurt she eats a huge knee to the nose and is hurt. The referee stops the fight believing the knee was illegal and Alpar receives treatment. The referee then discovers the knee was legal, meaning the fight should be stopped after use of instant replay, but he instead restarts the fight! Clark goes on the offence and absolutely batters Alpar for another two minutes before the referee finally ends the fight. Big win.

Mayra Bueno Silva def Mara Romero Borella via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (2:29)

Borella opens up the round by initiating a ground exchange so you know she’s a lunatic. She lands some nice ground and pound strikes but nothing damaging and Silva is looking to set things up the entire time. She throws up an armbar out of nowhere and gets the early tap-out for the win. Baffling decision by Borella.

Damon Jackson def Mirsad Bektic via Submission (Guillotine), Round 3 (1:21)

Bektic comes with an immediate one-two followed by a double leg. Lots of scrambles and positional changes but Bektic ends up on top and lands a big punch to the back of the head. The referee pauses the fight and stands the fighters up as punishment, but Bektic rocks Jackson as the fight resumes and gets the fight back down to the ground quickly. Jackson locks up a really deep kimura but Bektic doesn’t even think about tapping and instead just steps over and lands nice ground and pound strikes to break it. Bektic sees the round out with more ground and pound. 10-9 Bektic.

Fast start to the second round as Bektic opens up again with the takedown but Jackson does well to grab the neck and locks in a really tight guillotine. It’s in deep but Bektic fights it with body shots and eventually pops out and continues to dominate the grappling exchanges on the mat with raw strength. Bektic attempts for a guillotine of his own in the final minute of the round but Jackson reverses and lands some nice elbows on the ground to end the round. 20-18 Bektic.

Third round starts with Bektic engaging in a clinch yet again but this time Jackson ends up on top by grabbing for the guillotine again. He sweeps to end up on top and gets a mounted guillotine in deep. Bektic fights for a while, but Jackson is too good here and gets the tap. Huge win for Jackson!

David Dvorak def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A methodical opening round from both fighters as both men look to land leg kicks to slow their opponent down. Espinosa trying to move on the outside and Dvorak using good boxing to land some nice left hooks to counter. A few slips from Espinosa throughout but never really hurt, but I give the opening round to Dvorak for landing a bit more flush throughout and pushing the pace a bit more. 10-9 Dvorak.

More feeling out going on in this second round as Dvorak avoids the heavy right hand of Espinosa by continuing to throw leg kicks and left hooks. Espinosa is struggling with the left leg and is forced to switch stance repeatedly as he has to decide between landing the big right hand and eating more kicks to the leg. Dvorak staying aggressive and busy and takes the second round too. 20-18 Dvorak.

Dvorak comes out in the third with leg kicks on the brain yet again as Espinosa looks to counter. A quick clinch sees both men exchange in the pocket but Dvorak is landing heavier with the hands and on the leg kicks too. Dvorak has limited Espinosa’s movement with the kicks and is able to walk forward and close the distance better to land big hooks. Into the final minute and a heavy leg kick lands that wobbles Espinosa but that’s all and it should be a comfortable win for Dvorak. 30-27 Dvorak.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland def Darren Stewart via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A real fun first round in this middleweight fight. Holland and Stewart both come out throwing bombs early but nothing lands clean and they engage in a clinch against the cage. Stewart lands an inadvertant low blow which causes a pause in the action. Stewart eats two heavy shots from Holland but they both continue to feel each other out and exchange heavy blows. 10-9 Holland but it’s a close fight.

Early second round and Stewart rushes in and catches a kick and trips Holland to the ground. He attempts ground and pound but Holland defends well. Stewart gets to his feet with Holland still down and they exchange a few kicks before the referee stands them up. Holland goes for a takedown and Stewart grabs the neck for a guillotine but he can’t quite secure it so gets back to his feet and lands two big punches. Stewart throwing nice teep kicks to the lead leg of Holland before the two exchange in another clinch as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Holland.

Third round and both guys are coming looking for a finish. Stewart goes for another takedown and secures it but Holland gets up quickly before being dumped back down immediately afterwards. Holland goes for a kimura but can’t quite get it and they both get back to their feet. Holland beginning to tire now and shoots for a takedown but Stewart reverses and puts Holland on his back with 90 seconds to go. Big ground and pound for the rest of the round as both men trade verbals in the cage as the buzzer goes. 29-28 Holland for me.

Mackenzie Dern def Randa Markos via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:44)

The fight opens with a rush from Dern before she misses a head kick and ends up on her back. Markos engages on the ground and Dern quickly locks in a triangle but Dern is looking for an armbar. Markos is defending well but Dern sweeps into top position and keeps working transitions until she locks an armbar in deep! Markos refuses to tap but Dern adjusts slightly and it’s hard to watch but eventually Markos taps out. A grappling clinic from the Brazilian.

Johnny Walker def Ryan Spann via Knockout, Round 1 (2:43)

Walker comes out and explodes immediately which forces Spann straight into a takedown attempt. He gets Walker against the cage and both men clinch for a short while, throwing short knees to the thigh of one another. Walker separates and Spann lands a huge left hand that drops him! Spann goes for the finish but Walker escapes from full mount and gets back up. Both men land massive punches simultaneously that rock one another, but Spann rushes over looking for a takedown again. Walker starts landing big punches to the side of the head, before a massive elbow knocks Spann unconscious. A few more punches and the referee steps in to finish it. What a comeback win!

Khamzat Chimaev def Gerald Meerschaert via Knockout (0:17)

Chimaev comes out, throws a body kick then throws a straight right hand and knocks Meerschaert out cold. Goodnight.

Donald Cerrone vs Niko Price – Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28 x2)

A frantic pace to the start of this fight as Niko Price puts it on Cowboy early. Big strikes early on using his extra physicality to just walk forward and land heavy blows. Cerrone is stunned but surviving and comes back with some knees to the body. They go to clinch up and Price accidentally pokes Cerrone in the eye which causes a short break. They get back into it and Price lands a big one-two immediately that rocks Cerrone. He clinches up again and lands some nice knees but then Price pokes him in the eye again and the referee takes a point away! Round ends and what would be a Price round is now a tie. 9-9.

Second round is more even as both men look to go for steady combinations instead of those bombs. Price is visibly slower in this round but still has power, while Cerrone is finding a home for his jab. Cerrone getting in and out very well, but once again Price landing with a bit more power and a bit more volume to take the round but it could go either way. 19-18 Price for me.

Third and final round and the fight is up for grabs. Both men continue to walk forward on each other and land strikes but the pace is slowing and less power is in these strikes. ‘Cowboy’ steps forward and lads nice jabs, then lands a big head kick that Price just eats and continues to walk forward. The fight continues to go in the same direction as we enter the final 30 seconds, with Cerrone landing blows to a visibly tired Price. The round ends and I’ve got this as a draw. 28-28.

Colby Covington def Tyron Woodley via Knockout (Injury), Round 5 (1:19)

Woodley rushes out and takes the centre of the octagon as the two fighters exchange leg kicks. Woodley throws some jabs to establish distance then lets his right hand fly and Colby ducks under and blasts a double leg for a successful takedown. Woodley is patient and eventually makes his way back to the feet and separates. Colby has the centre now and throws a solid body kick and then a big right hook that lands clean before engaging in the clinch against the cage. Covington breaks away with a big elbow and an uppercut follows up but just misses. 10-9 Colby.

Woodley comes out with a nice right hand to open the round but once again Colby moves away and looks to engage in a clinch. Colby pushes forward and Woodley backtracks all the way to the cage constantly, as a defence mechanism to defend the inevitable takedown attempts. Flying knee attempt from Colby just misses and then another clinch. Every attack from either fighter leads to a clinch at the end of it, the respect for each other’s skillset is obvious. 20-18 Colby.

Third round opens up and Colby starts with an early eye poke that causes Woodley a lot of trouble. The fight pauses for almost two minutes but they get back into it as Woodley comes out with a nice combo attempt. Colby avoiding that power of Woodley and landing jabs before then engaging with a clinch against the cage. Woodley reverses the position momentarily but Colby then turns it back. Woodley visibly tiring against the cage as Colby lands annoying, point-scoring shots that don’t do much damage but will catch the eye of the judges. 30-27 Colby.

Into the main event rounds and Colby lands a beautiful body kick immediately before engaging in a takedown attempt. Woodley defends with a guillotine attempt but Colby pops out and puts Woodley down. In full guard and Colby is using the cage to try and prevent Woodley moving while landing some nice ground and pound to the body and head. A big elbow from Colby cuts Woodley open just below the eye and he’s landing a lot of volume on the ground, Woodley unable to get up but trying to defend himself. Colby continues with the ground and pound but Woodley survives the round. He needs a finish into the final round. 40-35 Colby.

Final round and Colby comes out with the same mentality to try and get the takedown. He lifts a high crotch against the cage but Woodley holds onto the neck. Suddenly, Woodley starts screaming in pain and the referee waves the fight off. Bizarre ending but the result is the same regardless.

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Main Card Predictions

A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.

The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.

Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).

With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here and the rest of the prelims here, so now I’ll try my hand at the stacked main card to better last weeks attempts.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland (18-5) vs Darren Stewart (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

With so many contenders for fight of the night, this is another that stands out. Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart are making quick turnarounds after wins in their last bout. Holland knocked out Joaquin Buckley with a stunning punch in the third round last month, while Stewart secured a first round submission win over Maki Pitolo on the same card. Holland is a top level striker with good wrestling chops and has come into his own in recent months but has shown a propencity to showboat in the cage. Stewart is a powerful puncher who’s usual style is to sprawl-and-brawl, making himself very difficult to take down which allows him to open up his kickboxing game. With both guys preferring the stand-up game, it comes down to accuracy and power. Either fighter could knock the other out, but Holland is that little bit more dynamic and I think he should be able to get the win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs Randa Markos (10-8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

This will be a fight that will almost certainly take place on the ground if Mackenzie Dern has anything to do with it, but Markos may need to have other ideas. Both women have only ever stopped fights via submission but Markos has a wrestling advantage. Dern is a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion and holds a black belt, making her super dangerous no matter her position on the mat. After suffering her first defeat, she bounced back in her last bout with a kneebar submission win over Hannah Cifers back in May. Markos has alternated wins and losses over the last six years and lost her last fight to Amanda Ribas also. She would usually rely on top control to get a win but on the ground, she’s in danger in this bout. She will have to look to use striking to win this and while it’s not her usual path to victory, she has the edge on the feet. Dern’s takedowns aren’t good and her striking arsenal comprises of a looping hook and some wild overhands. Dern has the advantage on the ground which is where both women usually do their work, but she needs to get it there first.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

Johnny Walker (17-5) vs Ryan Spann (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight showdown where a one-time top prospect in Johnny Walker looks to get back to winning ways against another top prospect in Ryan Spann. Walker was on a wrecking path when he entered the UFC, with showreel knockout wins over Khalil Rountree, Just Ledet and Misha Cirkunov but he fell in to Corey Anderson in his biggest test via a first round knockout. His comeback fight in May against Nikita Krylov didn’t go his way either as he was held to a decision. Spann is on an eight-fight win streak including 4-0 in the UFC, with his latest win a split decision over Sam Alvey. Walker is an explosive kickboxer with vicious power and acrobatic ability while Spann is more of a boxer who uses his leg-kicks to set them up. Spann has severe cardio problems and we’ve seen Walker’s main issues come against those who are prepared to wrestle him. Anderson KO’d him simply because Walker wasn’t expecting anything other than takedown attempts, but he won’t have that issue with Spann. In a striking match, Walker should be able to land heavy blows for a knockout win as Spann begins to fade.
PICK – Johnny Walker via Knockout, Round 2

Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (31-13) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The hype train for Khamzat Chimaev returns to the APEX as he looks for his third UFC win against the biggest name he’s faced so far in Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev destroyed John Phillips at middleweight and Rhys McKee at welterweight in just 10 days last time around, while Meerschaert was knocked out by Ian Heinisch in his last fight back in June. Chimaev has shown in his last two fights that he will go straight for takedowns and dominate with relentless strikes until he gets the submission or the referee stops it, but Meerschaert is a black-belt and will be able to hold his own on the ground. He also has good power in his hands but he is most dangerous on the ground, as his 23 submission wins show. Chimaev is a skilled kickboxer though and will have no issues keeping the fight standing for a while and using his superior striking skills for the first time in his short UFC career. Despite the big jump in competition, Chimaev is so skilled and good at what he does that he should be able to get a mightily impressive win here. The UFC obviously think so too, having already booked him for a fight after this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 2

Donald Cerrone (36-15 1NC) vs Niko Price (14-4 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Cowboy’ Cerrone looks to ensure he doesn’t take the gatekeeper tag just yet as he looks to get into the win column after four straight defeats when he takes on Niko Price. Price is a knockout artist who is a natural 170lbs-er and that spells bad things for Cerrone. Both men throw great kickboxing combinations and while Cerrone is slightly better technically, Price’s extra power makes up for it. If Cerrone wants success he’ll need to use his footwork to get in and out quickly but Price has a three-inch reach advantage so will likely stay out of range. This is a fight where both men will employ similar tactics and it’s simply about who can outland the other. I think because of Price’s physicality advantage and power edge, he will be able to stay for the full three rounds and secure a big win.
PICK – Niko Price via Unanimous Decision

Colby Covington (15-2) vs Tyron Woodley (19-5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The grudge match of the year. A fight over two years in the making is finally among us as Colby Covington looks to get back into the win column following his title defeat in December last year while Woodley looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against his long time rival. Woodley’s style is usually to sprawl and brawl, with his huge power in his right hand his most trusted weapon. He’s failed to throw it with any real vim in his last two fights though as he was crushed by both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Covington is almost the worst possible match up for Woodley at this point. He has a suffocating wrestling style, much like Usman does, but he showed in that fight for the title last year that he has good striking too. His heavy hands caused damage to Usman and although he ultimately lost, he showed that he is the second best welterweight in the world. This fight is the type that ‘Chaos’ would have been dreaming of to get back into the picture – a big name, but past his best in the cage. Colby could go for a finish in this one just to make a statement, but I think he takes it the full 25 minutes for a dominant win.
PICK – Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Prelims Predictions

A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.

The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.

Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).

With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here. I will do the rest of the preliminary card here and try to improve on my poor showing last week.

PRELIMS

Jessica-Rose Clark (9-6) vs Sarah Alpar (9-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

This is one of those fights that is going likely be pretty one-sided, but which side depends entirely on who can assert themselves first. Sarah Alpar makes her UFC debut 13 months after her win on Dana White’s Contender Series, after three consecutive wins. Jessica-Rose Clark is most known for her decision win over Paige VanZant back in January 2018 but she has lost two in a row since then including to Jessica Eye and most recently Pannie Kianzad in November of last year. Alpar is an aggressive grappler with an excellent top game who hasn’t got the greatest hands in women’s MMA while Clark is more of a striker who is uncomfortable on the ground. The big question in this fight, is can Alpar get the takedown or will Clark’s defence stand-up in the bantamweight division. The expectation is Alpar will eventually get the takedown and she’ll be able to keep it there and control the fight there for a decision win.
PICK – Sarah Alpar via Unanimous Decision

Jordan Espinosa (15-7) vs David Dvorak (18-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

One of the closest fights on the card here as two ranked flyweights clash in the octagon looking to work their way up. Espinosa has lost two of his last three fights, both by submission, but got the win last time out against Mark De La Rosa back in June. Dvorak is on a 14 fight win streak, with his UFC debut coming in his last bout with a win over Bruno Silva despite being knocked down early on. Espinosa is a top wrestler who knows how to use his hands to a competent enough level to set up takedowns, but Dvorak has excellent takedown defence and is nasty counter-striker. He also has the submission skills to punish Espinosa should he lazy with any takedowns, as he was against Alex Perez. Should Dvorak push the pace as he usually does, he will test the cardio of Espinosa and has the power to finish the fight late on if the conditioning becomes an issue.
PICK – Dvid Dvorak via Unanimous Decision

Mayra Bueno Silva (5-1) vs Mara Romero Borella (11-8 3NC) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting bout in the women’s flyweight division here. Silva’s record is fresh and she’s only 29, but she’s coming off her first professional defeat after winning by submission on Dana White’s Contender Series and then in her UFC debut against Gillian Robertson. Borella on the other hand has lost four of her last five including her last three in a row. Silva is a volume striker on the feet and has great submission skills, shown in her three submission wins from five on her record. Borella’s best path to victor is wrestling and top control but Silva may have her trumped on the ground with submissions so she’d need to be extra careful even then. On the feet it’s lopsided in Silva’s favour and because of that Borella will be forced into a ground fight where Silva is more than comfortable.
PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Submission, Round 1

Mirsad Bektic (13-3) vs Damon Jackson (17-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Bektic takes on Damon Jackson who steps in on very late notice in this featherweight bout, replacing Luiz Garagorri. Bektic has lost his two in a row to Josh Emmett and Dan Ige but prior to that had beaten Ricardo Lamas and Godofredo Castro. Jackson returns to the UFC after four years away following a winless three-fight run in the company previously. Since leaving though he has been in the PFL and done well, winning 8 of 10 including his last bout by submission. Jackson has the advantage in this if he can get into submission situations but other than that, this is Bektic’s fight to lose. He has better striking, better cardio, better clinches and better kicking. So long as he keeps this fight standing, which he should with his takedown defence, Bektic takes this in the later rounds.
PICK – Mirsad Bektic via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Early Prelims Predictions

A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.

The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.

Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).

With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I’ll break down the four UFC Fight Pass prelims here and give my predictions in the hope of doing far better than I did last weekend.

EARLY PRELIMS

Tyson Nam (19-11-1) vs Jerome Rivera (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

After initially being slated to compete in the feature prelim bout last week, Tyson Nam now steps in on short-notice to take on Jerome Rivera. Nam won his last bout in scintillating fashion with a vicious knockout of Zarrukh Adashev back in June, while Rivera makes his UFC debut following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series last month. Nam is a kickboxer with good clinching skills and ridiculously heavy hands, but he’s struggled to put together consistent performances in the UFC. Rivera is a strong grappler but his defeat in his LFA title fight showed a big hole in his game. He struggles to follow through with his takedowns and leaves his chin in the air, often moving forward in straight lines. With Nam’s excellent takedown defence and counter-striking, this is a recipe for disaster for Rivera and this could be a violent win for Nam yet again.
PICK – Tyson Nam via Knockout, Round 1

Darrick Minner (24-11) vs T.J. Laramie (12-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fight between a submission expert and an all-round mixed martial artist in the featherweight division as Darrick Minner takes on T.J. Laramie. Minner has just one UFC fight to his name, a defeat to Grant Dawson last time out back in February but he has 21 submission victories from 24 career wins. ‘The Truth’ Laramie makes his UFC debut after a win on Dana White’s Contender Series last month where he battered Daniel Swain to a doctor’s stoppage after the first round. Minner’s game relies completely on getting the fight to the ground so he can work his submissions but Laramie has fantastic takedown defence and his striking is clear of Minner’s. While there is always the chance of Minner getting the takedown, Laramie is no slouch on the ground and if he can somehow get into a top position he has the tools to be comfortable there too. Overall, it’s a fight that has too many paths to victory for Laramie for me to not pick him.
PICK – T.J. Laramie via Knockout, Round 3

Andre Ewell (16-6) vs Irwin Rivera (10-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Former CES champion Andre Ewell steps into the cage for his sixth UFC fight against Irwin Rivera who got his first UFC win last month in a split decision over Ali AlQaisi. Ewell is a striker predominantly but is unorthodox. He strikes from range and with great power, which shows with his 7 knockout wins to date. Rivera has a succinct lack of takedown skills and has a height and reach disadvantage in this fight which will leave him open, but he showed great courage and heart in his defeat to Giga Chikadze in May. With Ewell’s lack of consistency in the octagon, that will give Rivera encouragement that he can pull something off but judging solely off their attributes, it should be a relatively comfortable night for Ewell to make it back-to-back wins.
PICK – Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision

Journey Newson (9-2 1NC) vs Randy Costa (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A sleeper for fight of the night in this one as Journey Newson and Randy Costa match up in the bantamweight division. Newson lost his octagon debut in a late-notice bout against Ricardo Ramos before he blasted Domingo Pilarte for a first round knockout, although it was later overturned after a positive test for marijuana. Costa lost his debut also, to Brandon Davis after a good start before the more experienced man took over and scored a submission win. All of Costa’s professional wins have come via knockout but Newson has a good chin and good cardio. If he can withstand the initial storm, he could take over the fight and lead into a scrap that could see Costa deteriorate. For me though, I can’t see this fight going the distance and I expect that Costa will be able to get the knockout early with his pressure.
PICK – Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 1

Donald Cerrone: Time To Accept Gatekeeper Status?

The record for the most appearances, the most wins and the most head-kick knockouts in the UFC all belong to one man, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The man just loves to fight.

On Saturday night at UFC Vegas 11, Cerrone will make his 36th walk to the octagon when he takes on Niko Price on a run of four straight defeats. He was beaten by Tony Ferguson after taking a beaten in the second round, with his eye swelling shut and the doctor stopping the fight. His next bout saw him knocked out in the first round by lightweight contender Justin Gaethje, before his embarrassing 40 second KO to Conor McGregor at the start of this year. He then took on Anthony Pettis in May and suffered a unanimous decision loss.

He now moves on to Price who has yo-yo’d wins and losses in his last six fights, with each of those bouts ending via knockout. Price is a finisher who possesses great power in his hands, with 10 knockout wins from his 14 career victories. That could spell trouble for Cerrone, who has struggled with power punchers in recent times.

Every time Cerrone fails on the big stage, he gets labelled as a gatekeeper. He usually comes back from it and wins a few fights but this time it seems significant that he didn’t. The loss to Pettis was a fight he really should have won. Pettis is a former featherweight and this bout was at welterweight, Cerrone should have been too big and too strong. But while the decision was a controversial one, the record shows he lost.

With Price looking to get back on the winning trail following a knockout defeat to Vicente Luque last time out, Cerrone is a big name that could see him shoot back up the rankings. If Cerrone struggled against McGregor and Pettis in terms of size and strength, a natural 170lbs-er will cause him even more trouble. He also has a great knack for turning fights into a war, which will favour him.

So is it time for Cerrone to forget a title hunt and just focus on wins and wins only? Should he accept the gatekeeper status? Probably.

At 37 he’s entering the end of a normal fighter career, but this man has fought more than anyone. He’s always active, always competing and always training. He has more miles on the clock than anyone in MMA bar Alistair Overeem. It’s time to accept his status in the game now.

He’s had several attempts at the top of the mountain and fallen flat on his face every time. He’s now the marker between those not ready for those top of the mountain challenges and those who are. There’s nothing wrong with it either, not everyone can finish at the top. Cowboy has never been one of the truly elite in any division.

There are plenty of exciting fights he can still have as the gatekeeper in the UFC with his ability to compete in two of the most stacked weight-classes in the company. He must accept his time to become the man has gone and if he can adapt to his new role, he could extend this sensational career a little while longer yet.

Tyron Woodley Must Defeat Colby Covington Or His Legacy Is Tarnished

At UFC Vegas 11 this weekend, we will finally see the conclusion of a long-term rivalry as Tyron Woodley fights Colby Covington in the welterweight division.

A fight originally scheduled for almost two years ago, Woodley was the undisputed champion of the world in the 170lbs division having successfully defended his belt four times. His next contender was due to be a young bull who had been grinding his way through the division, making enemies anywhere he could along the way. After beating Rafael Dos Anjos in dominant fashion, he was the new interim champion with the only thing between a bout against Woodley being finding a date they were both healthy.

Woodley had undergone surgery following his most recent win over Darren Till but was due to be ready in March. When the UFC offered Covington the fight, he opted not to take the date and instead get sinus surgery. The UFC responded by giving the title shot to Kamaru Usman and stripping Covington of the interim belt. Usman of course went on to defeat Woodley and subsequently Covington in his first defence, but the bad blood between ‘The Chosen One’ and ‘Chaos’ has never subsided.

When Tyron Woodley’s UFC London bout against Leon Edwards in March of 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19, Covington was seemingly willing to step in on short notice to get it done. The fight never materialised with both parties blaming one another. It was then due to happen again in May, but Colby reportedly demanded too much money for a short-notice bout and Woodley ended up fighting Gilbert Burns and losing.

Now on a two-fight skid, Woodley and Covington have finally agreed to fight that will happen, all things going to plan, this Saturday night at the UFC Apex. A win for Covington could do more than just elevate him back into title contention, it could be the final nail in the coffin of Woodley’s career.

After dominating the division for so long Woodley was destroyed by Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, who will meet in December for the title. With Colby’s style, another crushing loss is very possible. If that were to happen, not only would Woodley’s career at the highest level be done but it could effect the legacy he created for himself while champion.

While holding the belt, Woodley defeated Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in a razor close decision after their first fight ended in a draw. He then defeated Demian Maia in one of the worst title fights in history, before submitting Darren Till via a d’arce choke. All these came after the violent knockout of Robbie Lawler to win the belt in the first round. He was putting himself in the conversation for greatest welterweight ever and was calling out Georges St-Pierre for a super-fight in the 170lbs divison.

But should Colby Covington run him over in the same way he’s run over everyone in the UFC except for Kamaru Usman, those victories become less and less impressive. Colby destroyed Robbie Lawler himself last year and has dismantled Demian Maia in the past too. Darren Till always struggled with the weight-cut to 170lbs and was arguably thrown in at the deep end as the UFC looked to push him to superstardom following his wins over Donald Cerrone and ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Even against Usman, Colby took it to the fifth round in a super close fight before he succumbed to a broken jaw late in the final round for a TKO loss.

The levels have risen exponentially and it can now probably be argued that Woodley was the king of a relatively weak division. As soon as the levels rose, he was out of his depth. It could be a coincidence, with Woodley hardly a spring chicken at 38 years old now but history won’t look so kindly on it.

A win over Colby Covington not only gets his career back on track, but shuts all the haters down once and for all. After struggling to engage in his last two fights, he has promised to ‘let his hands go’ against Covington. After all the back and forth talk between the two over the years, a loss would be embarrassing. But another loss in the manner of his previous two, something Covington is more than capable of, may well be the final straw for a career that is entering its twilight now anyway.

If ever there has been a must-win fight in MMA, this is it for Woodley.

Khamzat Chimaev Double Booked For UFC Events In Next Month

The train is en route to the station and the UFC are anticipating a quick turnaround for Khamzat Chimaev.

The Dagestani-Swede fighter shook up the MMA world back in July when he won two fights in two different weight classes in just 10 days to stake his claim among the top ranked prospects in the welterweight division.

After destroying John Phillips at middleweight and then dismantling young Rhys McKee, Chimaev wanted another quick turnaround for a fight in August and called out Demian Maia. The fight never came together that month with travel issues playing a part, but the UFC have seemingly sorted him out and are making up for lost time.

Chimaev will now fight Gerald Meerschaert on September 19th in Las Vegas on the undercard to Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley. Should he be successful in that bout, Dana White has revealed that they are looking to pair him up with Demian Maia on Fight Island which is expected to take place for UFC 253 when Israel Adesanya takes on Paulo Costa for the middleweight championship.

Meerschaert has lost four of his last six fights, including being knocked out by Ian Heinisch in the first round at UFC 250. With Chimaev currently 8-0 and riding high on the wave of momentum following his two wins, it’s highly likely that he will look to end this one early once again in a similar fashion to the way he dominated Phillips and McKee.

The bout with Maia is much more interesting however. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert had won three in a row before a knockout defeat to Gilbert Burns back in March. In that run of wins, he beat legendary wrestler Ben Askren via submission after the two exchanged strikes due to the others grappling strengths.

The difference here is Khamzat is an accomplished kickboxer too, so striking is something he is comfortable doing. It may mean that we’ll see a new side to Chimaev in that fight should it happen. The other option of course is that he continues his path of destruction by wrestling his opponent immediately and just profusely beating on them until he can secure a submission or the referee shows some mercy.

A win over Meerschaert and Maia would elevate Chimaev straight into the top contenders of the division, and possible future bouts against the likes of Colby Covington or Leon Edwards could be all that separate him from a title shot within a year of entering the organisation.