Just In UFC 245 breakdown: Does Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington come down to only grappling? MMA Life

Check out the latest breaking UFC NEWS


MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC 245.

UFC 245 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Kamaru Usman (15-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 76″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Tyron Woodley (March 2, 2019)
  • Camp: Hard Knocks 365 (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC welterweight champion
+ “The Ultimate Fighter 21” alum
+ NCAA Division II national champ
+ 3x NCAA All-American
+ 6 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 3 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Good feints and footwork
+ Improved overall striking
^ Puts together punches well
+ Strong inside the clinch
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ In the open or against the fence
+ Superb top game and control
^ Rides and transitions intelligently

Colby Covington (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 72″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Robbie Lawler (August 3, 2019)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC interim welterweight title
+ 2x NCAA Division I All-American wrestler
+ Pac-10 wrestling champion
+ Multiple grappling accolades
+ 3 KO victories
+ 4 submission wins
+ 3 first-round finishes
+ Relentless pace and pressure
^ Well-conditioned athlete
+ Improved overall striking
^ Footwork, combos, head movement
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Chains attempts, constantly re-wrestles
+ Tremendous top game
^ Pins, strikes, cooks to submission
+ Superb wrist-rides and positional awareness

Point of interest: Pace and pressure

The main event for UFC 245 features a feud for the welterweight title between two wrestlers who have evolved into well rounded fighters familiar with the themes of pace and pressure.

The sitting champion, Kamaru Usman, stepped onto the MMA stage with a primary skill set of wrestling and has made marked jumps in his striking ability under the care of Henri Hooft.

A Dutch style striking coach who emphasizes pressure, Hooft has been able to help Usman’s power and presence blossom on the feet, throwing shots much smoother in transition and off of breaks. In addition, the Nigeria-born fighter also appears to be a natural when it comes to his footwork.

Whether he is feinting forward or shifting his stance in combination, Usman will persistently corral his opposition toward the cage, attacking them with impunity whenever they step near it. The 32-year-old champion is also smart about shifting away from his opponent’s power side when advancing, all while throwing corralling hooks that help him close space.

Nevertheless, as efficient as this approach has been for Usman, he is still not beyond reproach defensively, which means successfully suffocating space will be crucial against a high-output opponent like Colby Covington.

A lifelong wrestler, Covington has been steadily improving solid striking fundamentals from fight to fight, something that assists his high pressure and pace. From not crossing his feet to resetting his angles on the outside, Covington can create lanes for his favored kicks and crosses off of his power side – shots that are often set up by his jab.

The 31-year-old American also does a decent job of rolling off of his crosses, keeping his head off the center line while throwing and moving. Though many will still point to Covington’s defensive behavior in his fight against Demian Maia, I have to imagine that a lot of that can be attributed to his prioritization of takedown defense and pressure (not to mention Maia’s underrated ability to strike and make fights ugly).

In his fight with Robbie Lawler, Covington displayed much better distance and risk management, cleaning up both his technique, as well as his “where’s” and “when’s.” That said, high-volume offense is a potent two-way street that the American challenger needs to be mindful of – particularly with his propensity to cut.

Ultimately, I see stanzas on the feet coming down to whether or not Usman can successfully (and smartly) corral and close down space on Covington. And if he can, then that’s when I suspect to see the majority of wrestling exchanges between these two.

Next point of interest: Wrestling advantages?

News | MMA Junkie
MMA Life