The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is known for ending the year with a bang. This year seems to be no exception with UFC 296 set to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The card is looking pretty stacked, making it a big night for the welterweight division. The main event features Leon Edwards defending his title against Colby Covington.
But that’s not all. Shavkat Rakhmonov, a rising contender, is looking for a breakthrough win at 170 pounds. He’ll be squaring off against Stephen Thompson in a crucial three-round showcase.
In other news, Alexandre Pantoja’s flyweight title defense against Brandon Royval promises to be action-packed. And even though Paddy Pimblett’s lightweight bout against Tony Ferguson has raised a few eyebrows in terms of matchmaking, it’s sure to bring an electric atmosphere.
Now, let’s get into the UFC 296 “Edwards vs. Covington” preview.
The UFC Welterweight Championship sees Leon Edwards (21-3, 13-2 UFC) pitted against Colby Covington (17-3, 12-3 UC). The odds are in favor of Edwards at -148, with Covington at +124.
Edwards’ career has been a rollercoaster. Initially touted as a knockout artist, he had a rocky start in the UFC, losing to Claudio Silva and Kamaru Usman. However, he slowly climbed the ranks, winning fights while flying under the radar.
Despite his promising start, Edwards often found himself overlooked. He won a decision over Donald Cerrone, but the focus was more on Cerrone’s performance. Edwards continued to win, but his victories were often overshadowed by other events.
Yet, by August 2022, Edwards was the clear best contender for the welterweight title. He had a 10-fight undefeated streak and was ready to take on Usman again. The rematch saw Edwards deliver a left kick to the head that won him the welterweight title.
Now, Edwards has to face Covington, who, along with Usman, was considered one of the most promising prospects at 170 pounds in the late 2010s. Both were collegiate wrestling standouts who took different paths in their careers. Usman became a more well-rounded striker, while Covington relied on pace and pressure.
Covington’s career has been a mixed bag since losing to Usman. He’s fought once per year and, while he’s remained successful, his best form seems to be behind him. He’s still dogged and durable, but it remains to be seen how he’ll fare against Edwards.
The 2019 version of Covington would have made for an exciting fight against the current Edwards. However, with Covington’s recent performance and nearly two-year layoff, this fight looks to be in Edwards’ favor. The prediction is Edwards via decision.
So, that’s it for the Edwards vs. Covington preview. Stay tuned for more on Pantoja vs. Royval, Rakhmonov vs. Thompson, Pimblett vs. Ferguson, and the Prelims.