WHEW! Lordy Lord. The UFC’s final PPV card of the year comes to us from Las Vegas and it’s either a really great card or a really loaded card. Depending on how you feel about Usman vs Covington as a competitive fight, Volkanovski as a challenger and GDR’s ability to give Amanda Nunes som semblance of a tough fight, this could be a great card with three title fights and a bevy of action fights with familiar names like Matt Brown, Petr Yan, Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Marlon Moraes and Mike Perry on the undercard. If you think Usman vs Covington will be boring no matter what, think both Volk and Holloway will approach this fight through the path of least resistance and fear that GDR’s natural pop will take some of the aggressiveness out of the recent violent streak of Amanda Nunes? Maybe it’s just a really stacked card with a bunch of compelling action fights at the bottom. Truthfully I suppose I’m in the middle. If you remove the bleghness that is Ben Saunders vs Matt Brown, I love this undercard. If Usman vs Covington’s personal grudge unleashes the best version of both guys and if Holloway is the Max Holloway of 2016 and 2017 vs the Volkanovski who iced Chad Mendes? You got a card of the year contender. If not? Things get a bit hairy. Either way I got the names and numbers to get on inside and enjoy some ponderings!
Debuts: Chase Hooper, Punahele Soriano
Fight Changes/Injury Cancellations: 2 (Robbie Lawler vs Santiago Ponzinibbio CANCELLED/Sergio Pettis OUT, Brandon Moreno IN vs Kai Kara France)
Headliners (fighters who have either main evented or co-main evented shows in the UFC): 12 (Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Max Holloway, Amanda Nunes, Germaine de Randamie, Marlon Moraes, Matt Brown, Jessica Eye, Mike Perry, Brandon Moreno)
Fighters On Losing Streaks in the UFC: Oskar Piechota, Ben Saunders
Fighters On Winning Streaks in the UFC: Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Max Holloway, Amanda Nunes, Germaine de Randamie, Petr Yan, Viviane Araujo, Kai Kara France, Geoff Neal
Main Card Record Since Jan 1st 2017 (in the UFC): 36-5
Colby Covington- 4-0
Kamaru Usman- 6-0
Max Holloway- 4-1
Alexander Volkanovski- 6-0
Amanda Nunes- 4-0
Germaine de Randamie- 3-0
Jose Aldo- 2-2
Marlon Moraes- 4-2
Petr Yan- 4-0
Urijah Faber- 1-0
Fights By Weight Class (yearly number here):
Welterweight- 3 (76)
Bantamweight- 2 (59)
Women’s Bantamweight- 2 (23)
Middleweight- 2 (49)
Featherweight- 2 (61)
Women’s Flyweight- 1 (34)
Flyweight- 1 (16)
Women’s Strawweight- (30)
Light Heavyweight- (44)
Women’s Featherweight- (8)
2019 Number Tracker
Debuting Fighters (41-62-1)- Chase Hooper, Punahele Soriano
Short Notice Fighters (33-42-2)-
Second Fight (58-40)- Brandon Moreno, Urijah Faber
Cage Corrosion (Fighters who have not fought within a year of the date of the fight) (23-40-1)- Ketlen Vieira, Matt Brown
Undefeated Fighters (44-40-3)- Ketlen Vieira, Punahele Soriano, Chase Hooper
Fighters with at least four fights in the UFC with 0 wins over competition still in the organization (13-11)-
Weight Class Jumpers (Fighters competing outside of the weight class of their last fight even if they’re returning BACK to their “normal weight class”) (33-26)- Jose Aldo
Twelve Precious Ponderings
1- I really do have bad vibes about this main and co-main event. Even if Nunes takes a while, the likelihood that she finishes Germaine de Randamie is pretty damn strong. Volkanovski is a fighter who excels in the clinch and occasionally winds at range with some sharp kicks and a Mendes-y overhand right. He relies on putting dudes against the fence and working them with dirty boxing (arguably the best at 145 lbs) and a bevy of elbows in tight. The reality is that Holloway usually is real good at forcing fighters to beat him with whatever their plan b is. He’s also got the sort of jab and long shots down the pipe that allow him to dictate the space and the pace. There’s a pretty good chance that Holloway vs Volkanovski is 10 minutes of jabs and leg kicks, 10 minutes of clinch fighting and 5 minutes of intense high drama action. There’s also the subtle factor that Holloway seems to be openly admitting to wanting to be a bit more cautious vs Volkanovski’s last fight being a dud where he sort of froze up in the lights. I want to believe this will be the fight we all dream it to be but this could be a bit of a funky styles clash. As it pertains to Usman vs Covington, I need to be convinced that whatever we’re about to get isn’t going to be 25 minutes of clinch fighting. Covington’s striking is good but lacking pop while Usman’s striking is perfunctory with power. Both guys strike to wrestle and both guys live for the clinch against the fence. Even Usman’s breakout performance vs Tyron Woodley was basically 25 minutes of occasional flurry into a takedown into ground and pound into some form or control. It’s a tough sell for me made worse by Covington’s entire gimmick.
2- Is it fair to say that even if he didn’t develop the lamest gimmick of all time that Colby would’ve STILL wound up here? Like skillset wise, isn’t this where he was always going to be? We’re talking about a big time cardio machine with the wrestling to keep people off of him and the fundamental striking toolbox to at least be competent over five rounds. I guess what I’m saying is did Colby need to be the Butch Reed/Snowman to Chael Sonnen’s Junkyard Dog to get a title shot or was he always going to be in the title picture.
3- If you’re Jorge Masvidal, aren’t you kind of rooting for Covington to win?
4- Really curious to see how Covington handles Usman’s strength. The only guy who was able to somewhat stall that aspect of Usman’s game out was Emil Meek. Everybody else eventually succumbs to his pressure and how strong he is and it is of course worth remembering that there was a pretty solid round or so where RDA was able to match Covington strength for strength and get him down as well.
5- Would the UFC give Max Holloway a re-match if he lost?
6- The most interesting question about Volkanovski vs Holloway is really about how Max Holloway on yet another weight cut does against the power of Volkanovski. The last time a “big” guy hit Holloway, he looked really bad vs Poirier. Now to his credit, Holloway adjusted well as the fight went on and made a great showing down the stretch. For me, it’s about whether or not that initial system shock is a sign that Holloway’s steely fighting chin is about to crack or if he was just caught off guard for how 155 lbers hit.
7- Odds on whether Aldo makes 138 lbs or do they make it a 140 lb catchweight the week of?