On December 14th, the Octagon makes it return to the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada for one of the most stacked cards of the year.
Three world titles on the line with the main event being the definition of a true grudge match. “The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman makes his return fresh off a dominant victory over long-time welterweight king, Tyron Woodley, to defend his welterweight title against the surging and ultra-entertaining Colby “Chaos” Covington.
In the co-main event, The Pride of Waianae, Max “Blessed” Holloway looks to continue his featherweight reign against his biggest test yet, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski”. The third title fight of the night features the best women’s fighter to ever live and current two weight world champion, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes fresh off a first round head kick knockout win over Holly Holm and will be putting her bantamweight title on the line against former women’s featherweight champion, Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie.
Don’t think this the extent of the card, though. Long-time featherweight king, Jose Aldo makes his bantamweight debut against “Magic” Marlon Moraes. “The California Kid” Urijah Faber makes his second UFC appearance in 3 years after a 46 second destruction over Ricky Simon and will take on a merciless Russian, Petr “No Mercy” Yan.
In the prelims, expect blood and chaos from start to finish when “Platinum” Mike Perry returns to fight dangerous striker, Geoff Neal. Also, the return of “The Immortal” Matt Brown in a fun welterweight bout against Ben Saunders.
Below I will give my breakdowns and predictions on the three title fights of this massive, end of the year card.
Kamaru Usman (C) vs. Colby Covington (#2)
After months and months of failed negotiations, a furious grudge match is set to finally take place. A matchup of similar styles that, I genuinely believe, will be the most entertaining fight of the main card. In the past, we have seen that fights with this much bad blood, often end in tentative and dreary bouts on fight night.
This will be different because of the pace of Covington. Both fighters have very similar skill sets and it should be interesting to see exactly how each man implements an effective strategy.
“Chaos” is the perfect name for Covington because his style is one that is relentless and constant. There are no breaks, there is lull, it’s aggressive and constant pressure with strikes and level changes. Covington recently set the record for most strikes thrown in a UFC bout with 541 and he did it against on the most feared strikers in the division, Robbie Lawler. Not only did he throw a ridiculous amount of strikes, he also finished 10 of his 18 takedown attempts. Covington is full speed from opening bell to the last second of the 5th round.
Kamaru Usman has not lost a fight since 2013 and for good reason. He is physically imposing welterweight with nearly unstoppable wrestling, incredible cardio, extremely strong and has never been taken down in his career. Neither man is a world class striker, but both have been making leaps in their striking. I’d say Usman has the more striking power and diversity in his strikes particularly in his straight right hand and switch kicks. Usman will also be enjoying a four inch reach that he often uses to his advantage when striking.
Usman is one of the most physically impressive and feared fighters in this division. There is likely no welterweight on the whole planet that can match him. Except Covington. Covington has the style to cause frustration and panic in Usman, he has the style to stay calm in a fire fight and he will not be easy to take down and grind out. Covington’s pressure and volume punching, along with his chain wrestling will turn out to be too much for Usman in the end.
Not to mention that Covington has been ruthlessly trash talking Usman for months which clearly has bothered him. Usman will need to remain calm and not allow Covington to frustrate him into a fire fight and stick to his plan. He will need get ahold of Covington and keep him from transitioning on the ground. I just see Covington being too much in the long run and running away with it in the latter part of the fight. Look for Covington to pressure and fend off Usman’s attacks and ultimately gassing him out causing a late finish and new champion.
Colby Covington def. Kamaru Usman by TKO Round 4.
Max Holloway (C) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (#1)
Alexander Volkanovski will step into UFC 245 to fight for a well-deserved title shot against Max Holloway. Volkanovski has quietly but devastatingly been climbing the featherweight rankings amassing a perfect 6-0 record in the Octagon. Likewise, he amasses a near perfect overall record at 20-1 and is riding an incredible amount of momentum amidst a current 17-fight win streak with his last loss dating back 6 years ago. He’s picked up notable and really dominant wins over Chad Mendes, Darren Elkins and most recently Jose Aldo. Though he is relatively unknown to many, Volkanovski may be Max Holloway’s toughest test so far.
At 5 foot 6, Volkanovski is a smaller featherweight in terms of height, but the guy is absolutely stacked and in fact was well over 230lbs during his professional rugby career. Volk will be giving up five inches in height but only about two inches in reach. He, in a way, reminds me of a Chad Mendes in his build and his fantastic wrestling ability with powerful hands on the feet that lead to finishes over Chad Mendes himself. He has terrific cardio and is probably going to be the strongest fighter Max has fought and if Volk decides to utilize the clinch to work for takedowns, it could be an issue for Max. Volkanovski also has shown the ability to withstand punishment evident by his bout with Mendes where he was badly hurt.
Mendes may have more raw punching power than Max but he doesn’t have technique nor the pace to sustain that type of output Max will push in this fight so that will be a thing to pay attention to.
Two inches in reach may not seem like much, but when you’re fighting Max Holloway, it seems like he has a mile reach on you. Holloway put on a master class striking clinic against Brian Ortega last year where every round could have come to a stop due to strikes and Ortega had the same reach as him. Ortega does not have the wrestling that Volk does, but Volk does not have the striking technique and ability of Holloway either. Holloway recently bounced back from having his own win streak snapped in a lightweight title bout against Dustin Poirier in April with a solid victory over sure Hall of Famer in Frankie Edgar, a true example of being outclassed.
Holloway is great at pressuring and using his reach on opponents as well having incredible fight IQ. He is also historically difficult to take down and has incredible cardio that will likely play a factor in the fight due to Volkanovski’s history of breaking opponents with his pace.
I don’t expect to see a finish here. In fact, I don’t expect this be a one-sided affair whichever way this bout goes. I do, however, anticipate Holloway using movement and his range to frustrate Volk in order to offset some of his powerful shots and reach for takedowns. This isn’t to say that Volkanovski will not have success in the fight. Contrarily, Volkanovski may win some striking exchanges and will certainly win rounds if he is able to get ahold of Max and control him on the ground or make Max hesitant with some big shots.
This is a very tough fight for both men and I could see it coming down to the fifth and final round to determine the featherweight king of the world, especially if Max takes this fight even the slightest bit lightly. In the end of it, I see Max Holloway emerging as champion again. I just can’t pick against him, especially with how dominant he has looked at featherweight. Volk has looked fantastic, but you have to consider what version of Mendes and Aldo he got. Aldo, though only 32 at the time, has had over 30 professional fights, countless wars and two lopsided losses to Holloway prior to the bout. Mendes was 2-4 in his last 4 with 3 of his losses coming by way of knockout and the bout with Volk was his second after a 3-year layoff from a steroid suspension so one must wonder.
This will be close, and it will be a gritty fight that will test the wills of both men. However, to be the best, you must beat the best and the best is blessed.
Max Holloway def. Alexander Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision 48-47×3.
Amanda Nunes (C) vs. Germaine de Randamie (#1)
Amanda Nunes will be making her 4th bantamweight title defense against seasoned Dutch striker, Germaine de Randamie. I am in no way saying that de Randamie is unworthy of a shot at the title or that she doesn’t deserve to be in the fight skill wise. However, Amanda Nunes appears to be the most dominant women’s fighter we’ve ever seen in the sport. She has dominated every single opponent she has shared the Octagon with in the last 5 years except for Valentina Shevchenko who, quite honestly, could defeat basically any other women’s fighter in the world not named Amanda Nunes.
I mean look at her resume; first round kick win over Holly Holm, achieved the illustrious Champ-Champ status with a first round KO over Cyborg, a 5 round mauling over Raquel Pennington and who could forget the 48 second destruction over Ronda Rousey among many other. De Randaime is solid competitor who is undefeated in professional kickboxing and is a large bantamweight. I just can’t picture this fight being competitive and it’s not a knock on de Randaime, it’s just that she is fighting Amanda Nunes.
I expect Nunes to close the distance, land multiple big shots that put “The Iron Lady” down but maybe even out. If she does not go out, Amanda Nunes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and will finish the fight by submission. AND STILL!
Amanda Nunes def. Germaine de Randamie via Rear Naked Choke Round 1
Make sure to follow The Scrap News (@thescrapnews) on Twitter.
The Scrap’s Dreux Stamford is a recent graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelors degree in International Studies, an International Economics certificate from the Wrocław University of Economics, and is currently pursuing his Masters in Organizational Development. He was a member of the Men’s Track and Field team as an undergraduate and also holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, along with 15 years of experience in kickboxing. Follow him on Instagram (@Iam_Dreux).