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I’m finding it hard to make the case for Colby Covington here. By the time these two share the cage in the early hours of Sunday morning it will have been almost two years since their first fight. In that time Covington has fought (and won) once against an ageing Tyron Woodley. Compare this to Kamaru Usman who has fought (and also won) three times, facing Jorge Masvidal twice and Gilbert Burns – knocking out both men in the process.
Earlier in his career, Usman had been accused of being a boring fighter, something of a decision merchant. He seems to have taken this to heart, winning three of his last four by KO. Particularly in his last two fights, Usman has shown a new string to his bow in viciously knocking out his opponents.
When coupled with his wrestling ability, this newfound prowess on the feet makes him an utterly terrifying prospect. Given the rate of improvement we’re seeing from Usman, the fact he has already had four and a bit rounds with Covington in the past – so knows what he can expect – and with Trevor Wittman in his corner, I feel like an Usman KO/TKO is the most likely outcome in the main event.
NEW TO PADDY POWER?
‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas has competed 11 times in the UFC and closed as a betting underdog in seven of those, accumulating eight wins in this period. She is consistently underrated, and I struggle to see why. It’s about time we put some respect on her name and make hay while the sun shines.
Of late, she seems to be in a good space both physically and more importantly, mentally. In Trevor Wittman, she has one of the best strategists in the game in her corner. We know Namajunas can implement the strategy laid out to her and that is so important in what is often a game of high-level chess.
This is the rematch of a fight that took place in April of this year, in which ‘Thug’ Rose won via a sensational head kick. She arguably needs a finish again here as Zhang will come on strong in the later rounds but like I said, it’s about time we started backing Thug Rose.
When you’re expecting something of war, and I’m hoping this is a proper slugfest, it can be hard to land on a side. Instead, I’m just predicting someone to fall. Don’t be surprised if both men end up on the deck at different points here. Chandler likes to feint the takedown to land his power shots, as we saw against Dan Hooker.
However, as we witnessed against Charles Oliveira, he can be caught as well and there’s no better man than Justin Gaethje to find gaps. Coach Wittman is in for a busy night as has fighters in main, co-main and feature bouts. We’ve seen in his most recent outings how he has turned Gaethje into a vicious blend of the utter lunacy and skill that has gotten him to where he is.
Gaethje hasn’t gone the distance in seven bouts, with 2018 being the last time this fighter went all the way to the bell. Both men have combined for 20 first-round finishes, which makes it difficult to envisage a fight that doesn’t involve both men swinging for the bleachers. Back someone to hit the deck early and never recover.
* As a side note, keep an eye out for Ireland’s Ian Garry on the Prelims. He’s a real prospect and has done nothing but live up to the hype so far, hopefully, that train keeps on rolling. Enjoy the fights!
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