Putting his polarizing persona aside, there’s certainly no denying the ability of UFC welterweight title challenger, Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington. A wrestling standout in a division known for it’s grappling prowess due to the exploits of Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre, the smothering style of the brash Californian has seen him blast his way through the ranks at 170-pounds. This weekend in the main event of a triple-threat of title bouts, former interim champion, Covington, attempts to settle his rivalry with similarly talented grappler, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman with gold up for spoils.
Covington has undeniably ruffled a few feathers during his streak up the rankings, even within his own gym, Florida’s American Top Team. Inside the Octagon, Covington was dominant. He labeled Brazil a “dump” and it’s population “animals” after his unanimous decision triumph over Demian Maia. He’s accused arch rival Usman of taking performance enhancing drugs, and maybe most surprisingly, has pulled no punches when conversing about ATT teammates, Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk. His political affiliation to U.S. President, Donald Trump has also brought around it’s fair share of criticism and hatred. According to Covington, it’s an almost forced act after he was informed his UFC career was in jeopardy. One thing is for certain, he’s got under quite a few high-profile figure’s skin.
The 31-year-old is so much more than just a brash trash-talker. He’s only ever been bested once in the Octagon, losing to Warlley Alves via an opening round guillotine. He’s completely dominated former division best Robbie Lawler, taken a decision against the once lightweight best Rafael dos Anjos and as mentioned earlier, out-pointed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu maestro Demian Maia.
Covington is a Division I All-American wrestler with one of the best cardio tanks we’ve seen in recent years. His ability to strike in the pocket at the fence before transitioning to the clinch and almost chain-wrestling is hugely impressive. Even in the present day, Robbie Lawler has the ability to put the majority of welterweights away, but against Covington, the storied striker looked almost like a rabbit in the headlights. Covington set a record that night in Newark for the the most strikes in a UFC bout, without really appearing too fatigued throughout the twenty-five minute affair.
Against Usman, Covington meets not only an arch-rival, but also someone who can match him takedown for takedown on the offensive wrestling front. The Henri Hooft trainee was dominant in his championship victory over Tyron Woodley, taking the St. Louis power-puncher down on cue for five rounds and exacting a clinch heavy approach. Usman won all five-rounds in one of the most one-sided championship shut-outs in Octagon history. Covington has poked fun at the fact that Usman only competed in Division II as a collegiate wrestler, but make no mistake about it, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is a highly accomplished wrestler.
When breaking down the striking aspect of this fight, we have Usman on one hand, a dangerous puncher with a heavier handed approach. On the other hand, we have a volume and smothering approach from Covington who like UFC 245 co-main event feature Max Holloway, is incredibly active with his output. Covington has a almost unmatched output at welterweight, using his pressing jab and straight to make his way into clinches and takedown setups. Both men have really embraced a wrestle heavy approach throughout their career’s with finishes coming few and far between the two.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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