Prior to Saturday, buzz regarding a bout between Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington didn’t seem to match other, possible match-ups the UFC can book. But following UFC 225, that’s likely all changed, and not only because of Covington’s trash talking shtick.
“Chaos” has been firing verbal jabs at Woodley for months, now, but since other contenders were ahead of Covington, and because the latter wasn’t really, a house hold name yet, the welterweight champ looked elsewhere. Woodley repeatedly campaigned for bouts with superstars Nate Diaz and Georges St-Pierre instead.
But, on Saturday, Covington worked his way to a decision win over Rafael dos Anjos, and in doing so, he secured the interim belt. So, when you consider that RDA was ranked #1 prior to UFC 225, there’s no question any longer that “Chaos” needs to fight for the undisputed title.
So what about the mainstream pop? In terms of Covington’s profile? Well, we don’t really know if Saturday’s win will change all that, but, in terms of generating interest, via over the top statements and insults, Covington continued to do just that. Case in point, at the post-fight presser, the American Top Team fighter said this about the champ (quotes MMA Junkie):
“He’s out there spitting bars – you should listen to that,” Covington said of Woodley’s stab at hip-hop. “If you guys think you hate me now, go listen to him try to do his rap album. That’s a joke.
“Besides that, he’s doing his gossip stuff in Hollywood. He’s doing this B-list movie roles that go straight to DVD. He’s doing anything but fight, and that’s why I’m here. I’m making the welterweight division great again.”
“I’ll finish him inside three rounds,” Covington said. “Mark my words.”
So, ya. Obviously the UFC won’t be short on footage / quotes they can use to promote Woodley – Covington. But, UFC 225 offered other, even more compelling reasons, why this fight needs to happen.
Covington’s pressuring game proved to be the deciding factor in Saturday’s co-headliner. Dos Anjos was constantly back pedalling or attempting to defend take downs along the cage. As a result, his vaunted kicks did not play a key role like many thought they might. While RDA did plant some big left hands on Covington, he never appeared to have the accomplished wrestler in serious trouble.
Later on in the bout, however, as it looked like Covington might run away with the bout, RDA countered his pressure beautifully with take downs of his own. According to Fight Metric, RDA landed 3 take downs in the fight, while Covington scored 7.
Well, the champion is a much, much better wrestler than dos Anjos, and he also, by all indications, hits much harder. So, it will be fascinating to see whether Woodley can put the brakes on Covington’s pressuring style with takedowns of his own, or at least the threat of them.
If you weren’t pumped to see Woodley – Covington before, there’s a good chance you are now.