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6 Major Takeaways from UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley

| September 22, 2020 2:14 am PDT
Covington vs. Woodley - UFC Fight Night

What a night of fights it was at the UFC APEX on Saturday, September 19.

Simply put, UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley was a huge success from top to bottom, with some of the biggest names in the sport making their presence known.

The main event was the headline maker before the prelims got underway, and certainly gave writers enough to talk about when the broadcast ended. Bitter rivals Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley settled their differences on the night, with Covington ending on a high but Woodley ending on his back.

There was also a debatable draw between Donald Cerrone and Niko Price, as well as wins for Johnny Walker and Mackenzie Dern. All in all, there were six major takeaways from last Saturday’s fights to discuss. Let’s start with Dern’s performance against Randa Markos and work our way down.

Dern’s Accent is Awkward but her BJJ is Anything But

Dern came into her fight with Randa Markos looking to show off her new Jason Parillo-inspired striking chops.

Despite falling on her butt while attempting to land a kick, she looked generally comfortable coming forward. As embarrassing as the slip might have been to the American born daughter of a Brazilian father, it was Dern’s accent that once again confused the hell out of us.

But inside the cage, the 27-year-old proved that it is not just her dulcet tones that have evolved over the past few years. Well-rounded and assured, she showed a willingness to take it to the Assyrian Canadian, and, if anything, proved her focus on making a name for herself in the UFC is still there.

Dern clearly looked more dangerous when the fight went to the ground, but no surprises there. The highly decorated former BJJ world champion was as perplexed as anyone to find Markos attempting to challenge her from top position and didn’t take long to show her who was boss.

Dern is now tied with Rose Namajunas for the most submission wins in the UFC women’s strawweight division (3). This was her sixth career submission from nine professional wins but get used to the idea that it won’t be her last.

It’s getting used to that accent that will probably take more time. I mean…

Walker Should Stick with SBG

From an American that sounds like a Brazilian, to a Brazilian with a name that sounds like a famous Scotch whisky brand, there are some real characters in the promotion these days.

I am, of course, referring to the one and only Johnny Walker. A guy that could soon enough be exhibiting a hint of Dublinese in his post-fight interviews, should he decide to stick with John Kavanagh and SBG Ireland.

Judging by certain aspects of his performance against Ryan Spann on Saturday night, he could a lot worse. Walker earned the fifteenth first-round finish of his 18-5 pro record, snapping Spann’s eight-fight streak in the process. More than this, he recovered from a two-fight skid and that has to be the main thing.

Although Walker looked typically awkward and took as much as he gave, he got the job done. He didn’t crack and found a way of leaving the Octagon with a much-needed win under the SBG banner. Sure, there are some obvious holes in Walker’s game that need addressing. Could Kavanagh be the man to work these out of the Brazilian and help him realize his maximum potential? He just might be.

Just how far Walker can go is still uncertain. But one thing we learned is that he is still a dangerous prospect for most fighters at light heavyweight.

Khamzat Chimaev Is Not Playing

While on the subject of prospects, it’s worth pointing out that there is no fighter in MMA right now riding the hype train like Chimaev.

It took just 17 seconds for the Russian-born fighter to knock Gerald Meerschaert out cold. Having started the fight with confidence, he chased Meerschaert down before landing a superbly timed straight right on the UFC veteran’s chin to send him crumbling to the canvas.

This was the Swedish star’s third UFC win in just 66 days. A record that will take some beating, especially given the manner of how he has accomplished it.

With a second-round submission, a first-round TKO, and now a first-round knockout, Chimaev will face grappling wizard Demian Maia next. If he can stop Maia — who is expected to retire after their bout — his stock will rise even higher.

Although he looks the business, there are questions to ask of Chimaev. Will he choose to fight at middleweight or welterweight? And what happens when he faces an elite fighter at 170 or 185?

Who knows? But it’s going to be fun finding out.

Donald Cerrone Has Bought Some Time

Like many fans, I had genuine concerns for Cerrone against Niko Price in their co-main scrap. 

But he surprised a fair number of MMA fans by overcoming an early onslaught by Price to take “The Hybrid” to the cards for only the second time in his career.

The key to Cerrone having any chance in this fight was to get out of that first-round with everything intact. Which he did. Perhaps more importantly, the notoriously slow starter had the benefit of Price’s first-round point deduction to keep things even heading into the second.

There is no doubt that Cowboy had his moments in the fight, even if he did look a little slow at times. But he still has something to offer and has certainly bought himself a little time with his draw on the night.

If not for the point deduction, he would have lost his fifth fight in a row. He won’t find himself challenging for titles, or even competing with the top dogs at welterweight any time soon. But he has a couple of fights left in him and can put any thoughts of retirement on the backburner. At least for the time being.

Woodley’s Days at the Top are Done

Cowboy’s performance might have eased the pressure on him for a little while. The same can’t be said for Tyron Woodley, who saw his fight against Colby Covington stopped in the fifth.

The former champion was on his way to another lopsided loss in Saturday’s main event, only to suffer broken ribs in the final stanza. Woodley was just a few minutes away from suffering the humiliation of losing 15 rounds in a row but had to settle for perhaps an even more frustrating TKO loss to a guy that he professes to hate.

It would be wrong to suggest “The Chosen One” only turned up to collect a paycheck. He was clearly in good shape and looked to be up for the fight in the early stages of the contest. But once again, he failed to get out of first gear and was simply overwhelmed by his former teammate’s energy and pressure game. 

In the end, Woodley’s promise to let his hands go failed to materialize while Covington’s prediction of being pulled off a bloodied, beaten up Woodley came true. Make of that what you will.

As it stands, Woodley’s status as one of the top dogs in the UFC is no more. If he wants to hang around a little longer, he might find himself playing the role of a gatekeeper. I’m not sure if that will be enough for the polarizing Missourian. 

Don’t expect any miracles.

Covington is One of the Best Fighters on the Planet

Imagine waking up as Colby Covington on Sunday morning — if you could sleep at all.

Not only did you stop a longtime rival in Tyrone Woodley — becoming the first man to do so in eight years — but you receive a phone call from your beloved POTUS, Donald Trump, during the post-fight press conference.

I recognized the look plastered all over Covington’s face as President Trump peppered “Chaos” with compliments. It’s the same look my young son happily exhibited when he pulled his PlayStation box out from torn Christmas wrapping paper one Christmas morning.

Love him or hate him, Covington is going nowhere, anytime soon. Regardless of whether you like his gimmick or not, the former NCAA Division I wrestling standout is as legit as it gets. With his Woodley beef now settled, he can focus on securing a mouthwatering rematch with Kamaru Usman, should he overcome Gilbert Burns at UFC 256 in December. However, if Burns wins, I still expect Covington to land the next title shot. 

Since he ran away with his “Chaos” persona a few years ago, things have really been happening for the 32-year-old. An interim title win has, thus far, been the best of them so far, but I think he could do much better. At the very least, he has a legitimate claim to the 170-pound title.

Usman vs. Covington 2 is high up on my wish list of fights for 2021. There are few bouts that come close to this one for excitement. Covington, like in the first fight, is going to be a major problem for “The Nigerian Nightmare.”

Can he get the job done this time around?

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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