UFC 245: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Saturday, December 14
Main Card – 8 PM EST (ESPN+ PPV)
(Champion) Kamaru Usman vs. #2 Colby Covington (Welterweight Title Fight)
With multiple breakdowns during negotiations, this fight has been a long time in the making. The bad blood between Usman and Covington indicates the potential for fireworks when they finally clash in the octagon. But as history has shown, aggressive feuds can often lead to lackluster outings on fight-night because both fighters don’t want to make a mistake. The reason I expect a different result in this fight is the pace that Covington fights. He only has one speed: full speed.
Covington’s style is one of constant pressure and there is no “feeling out process” or “gauging the distance”. I expect Covington to close the distance and attempt to work takedowns, and if Usman is able to stifle that attack I would expect Covington to switch to his high-volume combinations on the feet. Covington rarely throws single punches and kicks, which leaves opponents dealing with constant pressure.
This could get interesting if Usman, a high caliber wrestler like Covington, is able to get a hold of Covington and turn the match into a wrestling affair. If Usman can maintain control of the fight with top position and submission attempts, that would be his best chance to win the fight.
Prediction: Covington by fourth round TKO
(Champion) Max Holloway vs. #1 Alexander Volkanovski (Featherweight Title Fight)
Max Holloway is as durable as they come for the Featherweight weight class. His ability to take a punch is second to only Frankie Edgar, in my opinion. Holloway is a high-volume, pressure fighter, but unlike Colby Covington, Holloway does not have the same level of wrestling ability. What does this mean for this fight against a beast like Volkanovski? The best route to victory for Holloway will be to keep his distance on the feet and pepper Volkanovski with strikes for five rounds.
Volkanovski is massive for this weight class, and he has shown the ability to withstand punishment, while also being able to dominate large portions of a fight. His lone loss was back in 2013; and since then he has made it look relatively easy while going on a tear against top competition.
The difference in this fight will be Volkanovki’s size and strength, which will allow him to withstand Holloway’s punishment on the feet and take the fight to the ground, where he’ll be able to inflict damage and exert control over five rounds.
Prediction: Volkanovski by Unanimous Decision
(Champion) Amanda Nunes vs. #1 Germaine de Randamie (Women’s Bantamweight Title Fight)
I don’t for a moment doubt de Randamie’s skill level; but compared to the ferocity of champ Amanda Nunes, I see this fight as being pretty one-sided. In recent years, the strategy for most opponents of Nunes has been to make it out of the first round (or even the first two minutes) with the hope that the champ will tire. The problem is that outside of a tough split decision win against Valentina Schevchenko in 2017 and a decision win in 2016, Nunes has dominated by KOs, TKOs, and a couple of submissions.
On the other hand, since losing to Nunes in 2013, de Randamie has been on a tear of her own. She even stopped former champ, Holly Holm in 2017.
The difference in this fight will be the first two minutes, and I expect Nunes to go all-out in route to a quick TKO.
Prediction: Nunes by first round TKO
#1 Marlon Moraes vs. #12 Jose Aldo (Bantamweight Bout)
Since 2011, Moraes’s only losses have been against top competiton. His most recent being over current champion Henry Cejudo in June. He has shown the ability to finish a fight from any position, but the outcome of this fight will be dependant upon which Jose Aldo shows up.
Until Aldo ran into the fist of Conor McGregor in 2015, he had been undefeated for a decade. Since that loss, Aldo has struggled against top competition from guys like Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski. So the question is whether Moraes is of the same caliber as Holloway and Volkanovski, or will Aldo prove that Moraes’ ranking is inflated?
Generally, I’d say that Moraes would get steamrolled by someone of Aldo’s caliber, but this will be a significant weight class change for Aldo. He will be dropping down to 135 pounds for the first time in more than 10 years. Will the bigger weight cut affect him? In this three round fight, I expect a depleted Aldo to get tired after the second round — giving Moraes the opportunity to finish the fight with a submission.
Prediction: Moraes by third round submission
#4 Peter Yan vs. #12 Urijah Faber (Bantamweight Bout)
Recently un-retired Urijah Faber is coming back to take on a tough man in Peter Yan. Faber is a crafty veteran that can win a fight on the feet or on the ground, but has only finished one fight since 2014. If Urijah is not able to hurt Yan, the “California Kid’ could be in for a long night.
Yan also has racked up quite a few decision victories as of late, so this fight has the potential to last the full three rounds. I give the edge to the man who is able to put out the highest volume of significant strikes, along with takedowns, for a judges’ decision.
Prediction: Yan by split decision
Prelims – 8 PM EST (ESPN2)
#14 Geoff Neal vs. Mike Perry (Welterweight Bout)
Geoff Neal may not have the reputation of Mike Perry, but he has the credentials to prove he’s a force to be reckoned with. After six quality wins in a row, Geoff is on a different trajectory than Perry.
Mike Perry is a tough, entertaining, and dangerous outing for anyone in the Welterweight division. At the same time, his reckless style of fighting has resulted in several losses over the last three years. Nonetheless, after alternating wins and losses in his last five fights, I fully expect Perry to come out with a “W” after feeling like a pitbull backed into a corner. He’s going to come out fighting, and I think his power will connect to Neal’s chin in the first round.
Prediction: Perry by first round KO
#2 Ketlen Vieira vs. #10 Irene Aldana (Women’s Bantamweight Bout)
Ketlen Vieira is undefeated at 10-0 but also hasn’t fought since 2018. For me, the difference in this fight against a tough Irene Aldana will be who comes in with the better cardio. This fight has all of the signs of a decision based on their recent records, and I anticipate this to be a slower paced fight. With Aldana fighting as recently as September, I give her the slight edge in cardio for the upset decision win.
Prediction: Aldana by majority decision
Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders (Welterweight Bout)
This is a fight between two men who desperately need a win. Matt Brown is coming off a two-year layoff and the big question will be about whether his sharpness and timing will still be there, or whether Ben Saunders, feeling the pressure from three losses in a row, will take advantage of having been active in 2019.
I expect this fight to be decided on the feet, and it isn’t likely to go the distance. Brown will either catch Saunders with a punch, or Saunders will drag a tired Brown down to the mat for a submission.
Prediction: Brown by round two TKO
Early Prelims – 6:30 PM EST (UFC Fight Pass)
Chase Hooper vs. Daniel Teymur (Featherweight Bout)
Undefeated UFC newcomer will be taking on the slightly more experienced Daniel Teymur, and this result will be decided by Hooper’s ability to calm his nerves on his octagon debut. Teymur has shown a weakness in defending submissions, and three of four of Hooper’s stoppage wins have come by submission.
Prediction: Hooper by third round submission
#5 Brandon Moreno vs. #6 Kai Kara France (Flyweight Bout)
Mexico’s Brandon Moreno is an exciting fighter that is capable of finishing any fight, but he is going up against a force in New Zealand’s Kai Kara France. Moreno has struggled against durable guys who can withstand punishment, while France has shown the ability to do just that en route to a string of decision wins.
If Moreno can catch France early he’ll have a chance, otherwise I expect France to expose Moreno’s penchant for coming up short in decisions.
Prediction: France by unanimous decision
#2 Jessica Eye vs. #6 Viviane Araujo (Women’s Flyweight Bout)
A rough patch between 2015-2016 didn’t keep back Jessica Eye from rebounding with three straight wins in 2018. Her experience should come in handy for this fight against the relatively inexperienced Araujo. Viviane Aruajo has four stoppage wins in her last five victories, but two of those have come by way of doctor stoppages for a cut and an eye injury.
Expect Eye to use her experience to control Araujo, but the latter could surprise everyone with an early stoppage.
Prediction: Eye by split decision
Punahele Soriano vs. Oskar Piechota (Middleweight Bout)
UFC newcomer Punahele Soriano will be taking on Oskar Piechota in a bout that on paper is pretty evenly matched. As with any octagon debut, Soriano’s success will partly depend on his ability to handle the pressure. Piechota has split his four UFC fights with two wins followed by two losses. With Soriano’s nerves and Piechota needing a win to keep his job, I expect these guys to go all-out in the first round.
Prediction: Piechota by first round KO