MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 36, a five-round welterweight bout between Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley. The event takes place on Saturday, September 19 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Colby Covington (-360)
Covington (15-2) is the No. 2 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The 32-year-old American is one of the top 170lbers on the planet and holds notable wins over Robbie Lawler, Rafael dos Anjos, Demian Maia, and Dong Hyun Kim. In his last fight, Covington saw his seven-fight win streak end when he lost via fifth-round TKO to Kamaru Usman in an epic fight. He has not fought since then due to a jaw injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, but he returns here for a grudge match against Woodley. Although Covington lost the fight against Usman, he showed in that fight that he’s an elite welterweight. His bread-and-butter is his wrestling, but his striking is getting better and he has great cardio too. Love him or hate him, but Covington is one of the best welterweights on the UFC roster.
Tyron Woodley (+300)
Woodley (19-5-1) is the No. 5 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The 38-year-old American is the former UFC welterweight champion and holds notable wins over Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, Demian Maia, Darren Till, Kelvin Gastelum, and Carlos Condit. Woodley was once one of the most feared 170lbers on the planet but he has really fallen off at this later stage of his career. In his last two fights, Woodley was completely shut out on the scorecards against Usman and Burns. To be fair to Woodley, those are the two top fighters in the division, but the fact he was so uncompetitive is certainly concerning going forward. At his best, Woodley has incredible takedown defense and possesses huge KO power in his hands, but we haven’t seen that version of him in quite some time. Other than landing a big punch, it’s hard to see Woodley’s path to victory here.
Fight Breakdown: I’m very confident that Covington gets his hand raised here. Outside of Woodley landing a punch and knocking him out, I think Covington dominates this fight anywhere it goes. He should have the wrestling advantage here as well as the cardio advantage and those are both huge weapons in a five-round fight. Woodley hasn’t shown up for a fight in a while and although he has promised to let his hands go in this fight, I’m just not convinced that he’s going to have a vintage performance here against a top-shelf welterweight in Covington. I just think that Covington’s pace is going to be too much for Woodley to handle for a full 25 minutes. Still, although Woodley has been getting dominated in his last couple of fights, he has still managed to survive to a decision. That’s kind of how I see this fight playing out as well. I expect Covington to dictate where this fight takes place, work in some takedowns, throw more volume on the feet, and take home a wide decision.
Prediction: Colby Covington wins via decision