Colby Covington proved he might not need American Top Team to succeed after all.
The longstanding rivalry between Covington (16-2, 3 KOs) and Tyron Woodley (19-6, 7 KOs) saw the two welterweight stars, and former teammates, finally meet in the Octagon for UFC Fight Night 178. It did not go well for Woodley.
Covington, a heavy favorite, controlled the fight from the opening bell and earned a technical knockout in the fifth round that left Woodley on the mat in serious pain after the bout ended. Already cut near his eye—and having been poked in his right eye earlier in the match—Woodley was taken to the ground and slammed into the corner when he started to shout about a rib injury.
That immediately ended the fight and sent Covington on a rampage, calling out numerous fighters for future bouts.
Covington left American Top Team in late May after run-ins with numerous teammates forced co-founder Dan Lambert to instate a "no trash talk" policy at the gym unless there was a fight scheduled between teammates.
Early in his first bout since he started training on his own, Covington showed he's capable of winning without the South Florida facility.
A first-round ground-and-pound had Woodley fighting from behind early in the main event after Covington was able to land a few strong elbows. The final tally saw Covington land 242 strikes to 52 for Woodley, and he controlled the bout for 12 minutes to Woodley's 14 seconds.
Now he wants another shot at Kamaru Usman after getting TKO'd in 2019. He may have earned the chance on Saturday.
Main Card Results
Welterweight: Colby Covington def. Tyron Woodley via KO/TKO at 1:19 of Round 5
Welterweight: Donald Cerrone majority draw vs. Niko Price (28-28, 28-28, 29-27)
Middleweight: Khamzat Chimaev def. Gerald Meerschaert via KO/TKO at 0:17 of Round 1
Light Heavyweight: Johnny Walker def. Ryan Spann via KO/TKO (punches) at 2:43 of Round 1
Women's Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern def Randa Markos via submission (armbar) at 3:44 of Round 1
Middleweight: Kevin Holland def. Darren Stewart via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Prelim Card Results
Flyweight: David Dvorak def. Jordan Espinosa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Featherweight: Damon Jackson def. Mirsad Bektic via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:21 of Round 3
Women's Flyweight: Mayra Bueno Silva def. Mara Romero Borella via submission (armbar) at 2:29 of Round 1
Women's Bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark def. Sarah Alpar via KO (knee) at 4:21 of Round 3
Featherweight: Darrick Minner def. T.J. Laramie via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:52 of Round 1
Bantamweight: Randy Costa def. Journey Newson via KO/TKO (kick) at 0:41 of Round 1
Bantamweight: Andre Ewell def. Irwin Rivera via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Bantamweight: Tyson Nam def. Jerome Rivera via KO/TKO (punches) at 0:34 of Round 2
The fall of Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (36-15-1, 10 KOs) continued on Saturday night with a disappointing majority draw against Niko Price (14-4-1, 10 KOs).
Cerrone hasn't been the same since falling to Tony Ferguson at UFC 238 in June 2019, and it's unclear how many more opportunities he'll have to prove himself as one of the sport's top draws at welterweight. The 37-year-old out of New Mexico could certainly excuse losses to Ferguson, Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor after all three ended in technical knockouts, but there's little to be said for his fights lately.
A unanimous-decision loss to Anthony Pettis in May wasn't the low point. Saturday was.
ESPN's FightCenter counted 110 total strikes for Cerrone to 142 for Price, with the Cowboy's opponent leading in significant strikes by 19. Had it not been for Price losing a point in Round 1 for repeated eye pokes, this may have ended up as Cerrone's fifth consecutive loss.
Instead, it's just another disappointing night for a one-time contender who has experienced far too many of them lately.
It was still a better outcome than a few fighters faced on Saturday.
Johnny Walker ended his bout with Ryan Spann almost as soon as it started with a series of thunderous elbows to the head, resulting in a TKO.
Gerald Meerschaert had even worse luck.
Khamzat Chimaev only needed one punch to knock out his opponent in the first round in arguably the most stunning outcome of the evening. Chimaev barely had time to work up a sweat before Meerschaert was out cold.
Things didn't go much better for Randa Markos, who saw her night end in the first round after an armbar from Mackenzie Dern forced her to tap out.
Six fights ended in Round 1 on Saturday. And while Woodley nearly went the distance, he found himself too bruised to continue.