Covington vs Woodley
Photo Credit: UFC

Match Preview: UFC Fight Night – Covington vs Woodley – 9/19/2020


Another weekend is among us, which means another night of fights is in order as the UFC returns with a UFC Fight Night on ESPN+.


Get your popcorn ready because this one is sure to deliver. A card stacked with talent, the main event of UFC Fight Night has been in the works for a long time. It is finally going down, as former Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-5 & KOs 5 SUBs) takes on former Interim Welterweight champion Colby Covington (15-2 5 SUBs).

A rivalry in the making since 2018, both men have been on the path to face each other in the octagon, and Saturday night, they get to do just that.


Covington vs Woodley
Photo Credit: ESPN

Things started to come together back in 2017 when both men fought and defeated Demian Maia. Woodley defended his welterweight title in a non-exciting match. Despite defending a UFC record 24 takedown attempts with one good arm (it was later known Woodley had a torn labrum in his shoulder), the fans, as well as Dana White, were not pleased with his performance. With the champion on the shelf to recover, the division needed a spark, someone to bring that energy and attention back that it once had. Enter Colby Covington.

Covington, who was 7-1 in the promotion before taking on Maia, was informed that after his contract is up, he would be released as he was not an ‘exciting’ enough fighter. So, what does he do? He defeated Maia in his Brazil at a UFC Fight Night card, and in his post-fight interview, he calls the country of Brazil a dump and the people filthy animals. We witnessed the birth of the promotions next ‘bad guy.’ Turning full heel, he would rock a Make America Great Again hat, voice his approval of President Donald Trump, criticize other fighters, and became a loudmouth of the UFC.

His actions would land him in hot water among other fighters as he was nearly attacked by former heavyweight champion Fabrício Werdum in Australia. Confronted by several others at different media events for the promotion, as clearly, being a fan of the current president in today’s climate triggers many people around the globe. But by doing all of this, he became a known name overnight. Once about to be fired for being ‘boring’ now, he was the hottest thing cooking.


After capturing the interim at UFC 225 after defeating Rafael Dos Anjos, it was now a matter of time before he got a chance to unify the belts against the champion Woodley.


Covington vs Woodley
Photo Credit: Sports Grind Ent

They exchanged words in interviews, press conferences, on social media; it was a real build-up. But as we’ve seen, sometimes great things take time to come together. Both have accused the other of ducking out of fights on three different occasions, so it’s up in the air who to believe. Covington would go on to defeat the former champion, Robbie Lawler, while Woodley would beat Darren Till.

Both men would face Karmaru Usman in their next fights for the title and come up short. Woodley would lose his next outing against Gilbert Burns while Covington would recover from a fractured jaw he suffered in his fight against Usman.

Despite the losses, both men were still linked as now seemed like the perfect time to pair them up, given they both needed bounce-back wins. The bad blood between them even was on display during their Thursday press conference. Woodley sported a “Make a Racist Catch a Fade Again” hat while answering every question with, “Black Lives Matter.” His opponent wore his usual MAGA hat.


Now, putting their political stances aside, these are two fantastic warriors are set to do battle.


Despite his ‘heel character’ (Covington has done podcasts and interviews explaining his transformation and how it was all an act), Covington has shown time and time again, he is not to be taken lightly in the cage. With a wrestling background, he utilizes a bee swarm style of attack where he is always in your face, pressing forward, not throwing massive bombs but relentless combos at about 60-70%. Not enough to knock you out but enough to keep you from pushing forward and walking through his strikes.


Covington vs Woodley
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

He has shown he has the gas tank to go a full five rounds at this pace, which most fighters cannot deal with. He may be hated outside the cage, but inside he is a legit threat to any opponent he faces. Covington needs to be taken seriously; otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of a decision.

The former champion is one of the hardest punchers in MMA. His right hand is dangerous anytime its thrown and can end a fight. But Woodley has also shown that he is a well-rounded threat. If the match goes to the ground, he can grab ahold of you and go for the submission. In his last few outings, injuries, and what looked to be settling for the one-punch finish cost Woodley wins. In preparing for this, a video was released of his training with Jorge Masvidal. He also disliked Covington (all three were members of the American Top Team, but Covington had to leave due to concerns team members would attack him).

One advice Masvidal gave was for Woodley to let his hands go, so look for the former titleholder to be motivated and inspired to put on a better performance this time out than his last few showings.


The winner certainly has a claim to challenge the champion Usman for another shot at the title and to avenge their loses to him.


For Woodley, he may need another win as his loss was one-sided, and he suffered another one after, but it would be a significant feather in his cap to walk away the winner. As for Covington, if he is to prevail, it only makes a rematch that much bigger as their first encounter at UFC 245 was a fight of the year candidate. A huge showdown between two fighters who, regardless of one being in character, have some legit bad blood between them. Don’t expect there to be too much handshaking and hugging after the fight, regardless of who wins. This is sure to be a fight you don’t wanna miss.

While the main event is gonna be fun to watch, the co-main event features Donald Cowboy Cerrone (36-15 10 KOs 17 SUBs) vs Niko Price (14-4 10 KOs). Also on the card is Khamzat Chimaev (8-0 4 KOs 4 SUBs) stepping back in the octagon for the third time in two months against Gerald Meerschaert (31-13 23 SUBs). Also featured on the card is Johnny Walker (17-5 14 KOs) vs Ryan Spann (18-5 11 SUBs) and Mackenzie Dern (8-1 5 SUBs) vs Randa Markos (10-8 4 KOs 6 SUBs).



UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ will surely be a fun event to watch with some entertaining matchups and possible movement onto bigger and better things for the winners. Be sure to check out for all your latest in MMA, Las Vegas sports news and events, previews and recaps.


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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media


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