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UFC 245 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Usman vs. Covington

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 12:  (L-R) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria and Colby Covington face off during the UFC 245 Ultimate Media Day at the Red Rock Casino Resort on December 12, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

On paper, UFC 245 appears to be the crown jewel of UFC's 2019 offerings. The organization will close out this year's pay-per-view schedule with a championship triple-header that concludes with Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington battling for the welterweight title. 

Before the 170-pound main event, we'll see Max Holloway look to continue the most impressive run in featherweight history against a surging Alexander Volkanovski with his championship on the line. 

The first championship fight on the docket is another opportunity for Amanda Nunes to build her resume as the greatest women's fighter of all time. She's already cleaned out the biggest names in two divisions as a double champion and will look to defeat Germaine de Randamie for the second time in her career in a bantamweight fight. 

In addition to those title fights, there are several other big names on the card. Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo will make rare appearances as underdogs to round out a strong main card. 

       

Main Card (10 PM ET, PPV)

  • Kamaru Usman (c) (-175; Bet $175 to win $100) vs. Colby Covington (+145; $100 bet wins $145)
  • Max Holloway (c) (-185) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (+155)
  • Amanda Nunes (c) (-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

      

Biggest Storylines and Predictions

Can Kamaru Usman Handle Colby Covington's Pressure?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 02:  (R-L) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria controls the body of Tyron Woodley in their welterweight championship bout during the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa
Chris Unger/Getty Images

There's nothing fancy about Covington's game. He's going to constantly put something in front of his opponent to deal with. 

He spams takedowns, punches and kicks until the opponent is too tired to defend anything. If he gets in the clinch, he simply works to get the takedown. Once he does so, he's looking to accrue as much volume as possible. 

It's not the most powerful game, but it's his persistence that works for him. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing style to watch, but it has been devastatingly effective.

Covington has worn down some high-quality opponents, too, with wins over Rafael dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler and Demian Maia in his last three fights. 

Covington's pressure is as good as anyone's. However, Usman is a prolific wrestler in his own right. His win over Tyron Woodley in March put that on display as he simply outclassed the former champion on the ground. 

Looking at their wrestling, it would appear that Usman is one of the few who might not be afraid to match Covington on the mat. 

Bloody Elbow's Ed Gallo wrote about Usman's technical prowess as a grappler:

"Some may see Covington as the more dynamic fighter, due to his activity level, but Usman has more variety as a wrestler and grappler by far. He's not married to the underhook or shooting against the cage, he can jack up the head with his forearm and unload with his other hand, he'll slap on a double collar tie, he feels comfortable working offense from a multitude of clinch positions against the cage."

Gallo's point could be the key to this fight. Covington's wrestling attack is based on overwhelming his opponent with so much volume they eventually succumb to his will. Usman has the tools to get to the positions he wants on the ground and especially in the clinch. 

Prediction: Usman via decision

       

Can Max Holloway Still Hold Off All-Comers at Featherweight

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - JULY 27:  Max Holloway celebrates after defeating Frankie Edgar in their UFC featherweight championship bout during the UFC 240 event at Rogers Place on July 27, 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Holloway's reign in the featherweight division has already made him a legend. If it wasn't for Jose Aldo's run as champion, he'd already be the undisputed greatest featherweight of all time. 

But all good things come to an end. Much like Conor McGregor and Holloway brought about the end of Aldo's dominance, Volkanovski will look to end the Blessed era on Saturday night. 

Holloway is still on a 14-fight win streak at 145 pounds that stretches back to a 2013 loss to a young McGregor.

Holloway's recent foray into the lightweight division backfired. While no featherweight has been able to have much success against the champion, Dustin Poirier's power proved to be too much throughout the fight as The Diamond claimed the interim title. 

The blueprint for beating Holloway may be out of the bag now. The Hawaiian struggled when Poirier refused to allow Holloway's pressure to put him on the back foot, and he answered with power shots of his own. 

Volkanovski is a strong, durable and powerful opponent. He's not as big as Poirier, but he's shown a willingness to stand in the pocket and trade with a dangerous opponent, and that could spell trouble for Holloway. 

Blessed's defense has never been a strong suit, and even though he's only 28, it may be catching up to him. He absorbed a lot of shots in the Poirier fight, and Frankie Edgar simply didn't have the power to expose that in his next fight. 

Volkanovski will and has a great chance to pull off a small upset. 

Prediction: Volkanovski via fourth-round TKO

       

Does Germaine de Randamie Have Anything for Amanda Nunes?

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01:  (L-R) Amanda Nunes and Germaine De Randamie interact on stage 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 Gett
Josh Hedges/Getty Images

At this point, every fight Nunes takes is just furthering her case for being the greatest fighter in women's MMA history. 

She's easily dispatched of every big-name opponent she's ever fought. Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg have all been swept aside. The Brazilian fights with a fury in the cage that belies her congenial persona outside of it, and no one has been able to figure her out since her last loss in 2014, to Cat Zingano. 

Since then, the only one who has even given her problems was Valentina Shevchenko, who has taken her to a decision twice. The last time was a split decision in 2017. 

So the question for this fight is whether De Randamie (who lost to Nunes all the way back in 2013) has anything to give Nunes any trouble. 

GDR won the featherweight title in February 2017 before having to relinquish it three months later because she wouldn't fight Cyborg. Now, she's moving down to bantamweight to fight for a second title. 

De Randamie's kickboxing has given her wins over the likes of Holm, Aspen Ladd and Raquel Pennington. She hasn't lost since the 2013 knockout loss to Nunes. But none of that is really a reason to believe that she'll be able to withstand Nunes power any better than she did back then. 

Prediction: Nunes via first-round TKO

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