Fighting out of Miami, Florida
MMA record 16-3
Betting odds: -310
Covington entered the UFC in 2014 as a pure grappler with limited striking abilities and a relatively muted personality. Flash forward eight years and “Chaos” is still predominantly a grappler, but has added an effective striking game capable of hurting elite-level fighters along with an ineffective trash talking game that could never hurt anyone.
According to Colby, the UFC was ready to cut him prior to his 2017 win over Demian Maia and subsequent personality shift. That change allowed to stick around in they UFC and earn two title shots, but history has shown that personality-type only works in MMA when you’re at least mostly backing up the talk.
Should Covington lose Saturday’s grudge match, his next step becomes unclear. Stakes are always high for both parties when bad blood is involved, but Colby’s career relies much more on a UFC 272 victory than that of his opponent, Jorge Masvidal.
While he’s not a high-level technician on the feet, Covington does a good enough job combining forward pressure, volume and a consistent pace. This makes him a serviceable and at times overwhelming foe to deal with in the striking realm, but it’s still by far his weakest area. He can throw out a decent jab from the southpaw stance and sling some hooks aggressively enough to sting opposition. But he’s simplistic with his approach, often relying too much on forward movement and pressure, and has many defensive holes as a result.
He’s shown to be durable, even when dropped, but proficient strikers can still pick apart his defense and win rounds. He often times sells out when throwing combinations and will began to wing his punches in a wild manner while leaving his chin exposed. This is how Kamaru Usman dropped him.
Covington’s best strategy on the feet is to wear opponents down with pace, volume and unrelenting pressure. This means marching forward and eating one or two strikes while delivering three or four of his own. This means against more powerful strikers who present significant knockout threats his options on the feet are very limited. He cannot simply wade through their strikes and instead has to be more thoughtful. This is where his weaknesses in his striking fundamentals really began to show.
Possessing a strong clinch game, dominant takedown arsenal and strong top position, Colby can grapple with the very best at 170 pounds. He’ll strike just enough to setup two things generally: the opportunity to duck under for a takedown or his opponent to back themself into the cage.
Covington has a variety of takedowns from space including singles, doubles and knee taps. However, his best takedowns come from the clinch. Mixing in a variety of strikes such as shoulder shrugs, elbows and foot stomps, Colby distracts his opponents just enough until they make a positional mistake. Once they do, he drags them down and becomes a suffocating presence.
Even if his foe pops back up, he stays pressed to them, relentlessly trying to force them back to the ground. The biggest key to defending his grappling attack is maintaining space not letting him firmly get ahold of you to begn with. Something his opponent this week, Jorge Masvidal, has struggled with in the past.
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