Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington are set to close out 2019's UFC pay-per-view schedule with a highly anticipated welterweight championship bout at UFC 245.
Both Usman and Covington's ascents to the top of the division have happened along concurrent timelines with similar results. Now the two will have the ability to sort out who is truly the king of the new wave of welterweight contenders.
The card is chock full of high-stakes fights outside of the main event. The co-main will feature another title fight as Max Holloway defends his belt against the rising Alexander Volkanovski.
Amanda Nunes rounds out the three-pack of title fights. She'll look to continue her utter dominance of the women's bantamweight division in a fight against Germaine de Randamie.
Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo will also make appearances on the card.
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 (-210) vs. Jose Aldo (+175)
- 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
Usman Ekes Out Decision Against Covington
Fair warning for the main event: The fight will be intriguing because of the high stakes and the vitriol that Covington generates, but it won't be all that exciting.
Sometimes an extremely close matchup is guaranteed fireworks. The differences in the skill-set are small enough that it comes down to a battle of wills as the two equally matched fighters straight up go to war.
This is not one of those times. Both of these guys are at their best when they are smothering the opponent with their oppressive grappling games. Both will look to close the distance, clinch up and put a pace on their opponent that causes the other to wilt.
The fact that Usman and Covington are near carbon copies of one another means those battles for positioning will be where the fight takes place. And while a battle for position in the clinch can be fascinating to the most ardent fans of the minutiae of grappling, it doesn't always make for compelling TV.
That being said, it will be interesting to see who can create an advantage with their game plan. Usman is the slightly better striker. Looking at the statistics, he's just slightly busier and accurate in the standup.
However, Covington might be the slightly better grappler. Usman has held his own and just defeated Tyron Woodley, who is an impressive wrestler in his own right, but Covington's wrestling background is slightly better than Usman's.
This fight will be won in the margins. Either Usman's slight striking advantage will win or Covington's excellent cardio will take over late.
In a battle of highly efficient grapplers, the better striker can win by a nose.
Prediction: Usman via decision
Volkanovski Ushers in New Era at Featherweight
The "Blessed" era has been a memorable one at featherweight.
Holloway's reign over the 145-pound division has been remarkable. His wins over Jose Aldo (twice), Brian Ortega and Anthony Pettis (who he defeated for the interim title) are enough to put him in the conversation with Aldo and McGregor as the best in the division of all-time.
That reign has to come to an end at some point, though, and Volkanovski figures to be a formidable opponent.
The former rugby player is strong, aggressive and durable. That combination, as well as his ability to pick his spots and high fight IQ, make him a true threat to dethrone the longtime featherweight king.
Holloway's 14-fight win streak in the featherweight division has come at a cost. His defense is decidedly not elite, and he's taken plenty of damage over the years. Frankie Edgar wasn't able to expose that in his last bout, but Volkanovski has the power and patience to put Holloway to the test.
When he evaluates Holloway, he believes that Poirier has provided the blueprint for a win on Saturday.
"Max's game is that pressure—come forward, punch in volume. But Poirier was able to obviously stand his ground, and it was hard to really get Poirier on the back foot," Volkanovski said, per Farah Hannoun and John Morgan of MMAjunkie. "Poirier was sometimes able to get Max on the back foot and capitalize on that—his fitness actually held up."
Volkanovski appeared to be at the top of his game in a unanimous-decision win over Aldo last time out. He could capitalize on all that momentum and become the next big name in the division with a win in this spot.
Prediction: Volkanovski via decision
Nunes Takes Care of De Randamie...Again
Nunes defeated De Randamie by first-round TKO at UFC: Fight for the Troops 3 in 2013.
That's a long time ago, and, usually, you can't glean much from a fight between two fighters who have undoubtedly evolved from who they were six years ago.
That isn't the case here, though.
Back then the fight was a relative afterthought. It opened up the televised prelims while Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal served as the main event. Nunes was an unknown with one UFC fight under her belt and De Randamie was just 4-2 in her career with one UFC fight as well.
A lot has changed with their name recognition, but the talent gap that existed then hasn't been closed. If anything, Nunes has widened it by taking out every big name that has been thrown her way. From Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey to Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm, Nunes has been a wrecking ball.
De Randamie poses some interesting threats theoretically. At 5'9" with a 71" reach, she will be slightly longer than Nunes, and she uses her length well. However, Nunes hasn't had trouble connecting against larger and longer opponents before, and this will be no different.
Both fighters have improved a lot since 2013, but this will wind up with a similar result.
Prediction: Nunes via first-round TKO