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UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington Odds, Tickets, Predictions and Pre-Fight Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01:  (L-R) Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington face off during the UFC 245 press conference at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2019 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman's collision course for the UFC's welterweight title will come to a head in the main event of UFC 245 on Saturday when three titles will be on the line at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

Usman will be defending his belt for the first time since thoroughly wrestling it away from Tyron Woodley in March. The Nigerian Nightmare earned a unanimous decision over the long-time champion but will be faced with another strong wrestler in the form of Covington, who will look to extend a seven-fight win streak en route to becoming a champion. 

Max Holloway will also be in action. After another successful defense of his belt against Frankie Edgar in July, he will defend his featherweight belt against the surging Alexander Volkanovski. Before that goes off, Amanda Nunes is set to continue her reign of dominance over the women's bantamweight division with a win against Germaine de Randamie. 

It's a big night of fights to round out 2019's pay-per-view schedule with a bang. Here's a roundup of the latest hype heading into the night and predictions for the biggest fights of the night. 

         

Tickets: StubHub

Main Card (10 PM ET, PPV)

  • Kamaru Usman (-175; Bet $175 to win $100) vs. Colby Covington (+145; $100 bet wins $145)
  • Max Holloway (-185) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (+155)
  • Amanda Nunes (-300) vs. Germaine de Randamie (+240)
  • Marlon Moraes (-190) vs. Jose Aldo (+160)
  • Urijah Faber (+350) vs. Petr Yan (-500)

Preliminary Card (8 PM ET, ESPN2)

  • Geoff Neal (-250) vs. Mike Perry(+200)
  • Ketlen Vieira (-185) vs. Irene Aldana (+155)
  • Omari Akhmedov (+115) vs. Ian Heinisch (-145)
  • Matt Brown (-360) vs. Ben Saunders (+280)

Preliminary Card (6:15 PM ET, UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+)

  • Chase Hooper (-130) vs. Daniel Teymur (+100)
  • Brandon Moreno (+125) vs. Kai Kara-France (-155)
  • Jessica Eye (+150) vs. Viviane Araujo (-180)
  • Punahele Soriano (-115) vs. Oskar Piechota (-115)

Odds via Caesars

           

Controversial Covington Keeping Game Plan Close to Vest

There are a lot of characters in MMA. The sport is constantly striking the balance between pure competition and the theatrics of its intertwined history with professional wrestling and the world of faces, heels and promotional trash talk. 

Covington is one of those people who is more than comfortable playing the heel. A fact that hasn't won him many friends recently. 

Amid reported feuds with teammates at American Top Team, the welterweight is keeping his game plan for Usman under wraps as much as possible. 

"I'm doing stuff behind closed doors now," Covington said, per Marc Raimondi of ESPN.com. "I don't want people to see my training. That's a big concern of mine. I don't want people to see the game plan I'm working and how much I've improved and the skills I'm developing every single day. You'll see that on fight night when I step into the Octagon."

Much of the heat stems back from when Covington turned heads after defeating Demian Maia in Brazil and subsequently calling the country a "dump" while also referring to the fans as "filthy animals."

Since then, the trash talking has paid off financially for the 31-year-old. He's gained traction as a draw because he stands out as a personality. In the cage, he's still the same grinding, wrestle-heavy fighter who has won his last five fights by decision. 

Despite their vast personal differences, Usman and Covington are strikingly similar once the cage door shuts. Both are prolific grapplers with the ability to negate their opponents entirely with their smothering aggression. Both are about the same size.

Usman will possess about four inches of reach advantage and one-inch height advantage, which isn't really an advantage at all. 

Both have put together similar resumes with long win streaks that are mostly filled with unanimous decisions. 

The margin of error for the two is minimal and this projects to be a close decision. Usman has never been taken down, but that isn't likely to remain true after Saturday. However, his slightly better striking might give him just enough advantage to come away as the winner on more than one judge's scorecard.

Prediction: Usman via decision

          

Volkanovski Wants to Establish Legacy, Send Holloway Back to Lightweight

Volkanovski's rise has been a bit of a slow burn as far as prospects go. He made his UFC debut in 2016 and quietly went 5-0 with two knockouts to his name in the UFC before getting a more well-known opponent in Chad Mendes in 2018's last pay-per-view. 

The Australian slugger not only scored a memorable second-round finish in that bout, but he also officially put himself on the map with a unanimous decision win over Jose Aldo in Brazil. 

Now the 31-year-old is ready to finish the ascent to the top by sending possibly the best the division has seen to the lightweight ranks.

"I took out Chad Mendes and Aldo is good but this is the fight. This is the champ. Especially on a card like this," Volkanovski said, per Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com. "This is when everyone will know my skill and discuss me as one of the best featherweights of all time. If I go and do that, taking out legends of the sport, you can't argue I am one of the best featherweights of all time.

"He has thrown out moving up, he is a big boy, so it is hard to make that weight," he added. "I don't want to sound cocky, once he feels the power and what I do Dec. 14, I think he is going to realize his smartest move is to move up."

Holloway recently moved up to lightweight to fight Dustin Poirier for an interim lightweight title, but he was outpointed by The Diamond in a unanimous-decision loss. 

Now he faces a challenger who can legitimately take away his featherweight crown. Holloway has proved to be one of the best of all time in the weight class, but the loss to Poirier showed how he can struggle with a bigger and stronger fighter. 

Volkanovski will be both on Saturday night and it could be a time for a changing of the guard after Holloway took the mantel from Aldo as the sport's most dominant featherweight. 

Prediction: Volkanovski via fourth-round TKO