UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Main Event Pick
UFC 296: EDWARDS VS. COVINGTON MAIN EVENT PICK – The welterweight division was long reigned by Georges St. Pierre. It was then thrown around a little before Kamaru Usman took the title and reigned supreme. However, the division was toppled on its head when Leon Edwards landed the kick heard ‘round the world, cementing a new champion in late 2022.
Now off a more convincing win over Usman, Edwards looks to continue building upon his legacy with his second title defense this weekend.
The welterweight division’s bad boy has been out of the cage since March, 2022, but that has not stopped the UFC from plugging Colby Covington into a title fight.
Will the Brit continue his undefeated run of 12 fights? Or will Chaos wear the undisputed crown for the first time in his career? Read on to see how this striker vs grappler matchup will go down and if there is a viable betting angle.
Kicking off his UFC career with a 2-2 run, there were not many high expectations for Edwards.
Many believed Edwards would fall into a lull of win streak and losing streaks that would keep him in the promotion, but not amount to anything more or less than that. However, a nine-fight winning streak, with each opponent being a step up in competition, signaled that it was time to give Edwards a shot at gold.
It is tough to deny when his last four wins include names such as Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos, Gunnar Nelson, and Donald Cerrone.
What made Edwards special in the first place was his striking.
He threw in combinations; he was patient but lethal at the same time. As he matured through his years with the UFC, you saw he began to implement offensive grappling rather than using it defensively as he did throughout the beginning of his career.
No one wanted to stand with him, so they were forcing fights to the ground. We then saw him using it as his own advantage to give his opponents more to think about rather than expecting him just to strike with them.
Depending on the level of grappler though, we have seen him get grinded out, most notably through round two to four of his first title shot against Usman.
If it was not for the perfectly placed head kick to finish Usman, Edwards would have suffered another loss to the man who handed him last defeat back in 2015.
It was wild to hear the story that the UFC was looking to rid themselves of Covington even during his four-fight winning streak.
He was set to compete against Demian Maia, which is when he decided to turn on the persona people know him for now.
Since that fight, he has found himself in nothing but five-round fights, including three title fights (one of them being for the interim title). It cannot be denied that he is one of the best fighters on the planet, but I think the UFC enjoys him being a mouthpiece and pulling in the publicity whenever he fights.
People in the know are aware of how much of an act it is, but for the public it is enough for them to want to tune in and see him get his butt whooped.
Unfortunately, we do not see him lose often. Since 2016 he has only been defeated twice and those were both title fight losses to Kamaru Usman.
What makes Covington so successful is his pace, pressure, output, and wrestling. Technically speaking, his striking could use work, but the way he fuels his striking with forward pressure and high output, it frustrates and breaks opponents.
He can easily get into the triple digits in significant strikes without even landing a takedown. The endless gas tank allows his entire game to flow smoothly.
I have long said that if Usman was not champion, Covington would be the one. This weekend, Covington can secure the undisputed gold that has eluded him for so long.
I am absolutely drooling over the underdog money we are getting on Covington.
A lot of recency bias with Edwards defeating Usman twice, with a lot of people overlooking the small intricacies, has the masses thinking Edwards should handle Covington as he did with Usman. All he must do is stuff the takedowns and utilize his striking.
Unfortunately for Edwards, it won’t be that easy. Covington is far more comfortable in the striking range than Usman is. Covington will be able to push the pressure and his takedowns will come effortlessly behind it.
Even if Edwards stops the first handful of takedown attempts, that will not stop Covington from coming forward and pressuring him. If Covington does not get knocked out, Covington will be winning the majority of this fight. There’s a new era in the welterweight division and it will be Chaos.