After weeks of events lacking in star power, UFC Fight Night 178 comes around with a stacked card, headlined by a rivalry which has brewed for years.
Pitting top welterweight contenders Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley together, the main event bout carries bad blood between the two fighters while the rest of the main card sees notable names in competitive fights.
Colby Covington (15-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (19-5-1)
Woodley has lost ten straight rounds against aggressive pressure fighters and unfortunately for him, Colby Covington is of the same mold.
While Covington isn’t as powerful as Kamaru Usman or Gilbert Burns, his combinations with his hands are perhaps more prevalent in his gameplan and Woodley simply doesn’t respond well when backing up.
Woodley to his credit does have knockout power so he’s always a live dog in the fight but his willingness to throw his hands has all but disappeared in his last two outings.
While the signs point to a Covington win, and it is what I’m predicting here, Woodley’s personal beef with Covington and the open path for his overhand right against a southpaw are things which could negate a poor stylistic match-up.
Pick: Colby Covington
Donald Cerrone (36-15, 1 NC) vs. Niko Price (14-4, 1 NC)
This is a hard fight to call.
A fight against Niko Price is one that Cerrone would have won fairly convincingly in the past but he’s slowly lost his durablity and sharpness in recent times.
While ‘Cowboy’ was somewhat unfortunate to drop a decision to Anthony Pettis last time out, the 37-year old is eating more and more shots to his detriment.
Price however is not much better when it comes to defensive responsibility but he’s pretty damn durable and is a proven finisher with his strikes.
I think this boils down to whether you think Cerrone has lost his spark completely and I’m not quite there yet.
He is still a submission threat, has a diverse arsenal of strikes and his recent losses haven’t exactly been against poor opposition.
Pick: Donald Cerrone
Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (31-13)
Unquestionably the biggest test of Chimaev’s career thus far but I think he should get the victory here.
On the feet we haven’t seen much of Chimaev but his grappling game is suffocating and Meerschaert has been submitted in the majority of his losses.
I doubt we learn all too much again here, and I’m not yet on the hype train 100%, but I think Chimaev should win in a similar fashion to what we’ve already seen.
Pick: Khamzat Chimaev
Johnny Walker (17-5) vs. Ryan Spann (18-5)
Spann is on a long winning streak at light heavyweight but I’m not sure how he beats Johnny Walker.
Spann likes to clinch against his opponents, a place where Walker can finish and control from, and I’m not sure he has the technical prowess to outshine Walker at kickboxing range.
Pick: Johnny Walker
Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs. Randa Markos (10-8-1)
The Randa Markos theory of inconsistency suggests she wins here but I’m hesistent about her chances to keep the fight standing for three rounds.
On the feet, and Markos has admited as much herself, is her best chance of victory but with Dern training with Jason Parillo, I’m intrigued to see her striking improvements.
Both fighters are inconsistent from one moment to the next so it’s pretty much a coin flip but I think Dern’s physicality should she her grappling come into play.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern
Kevin Holland (18-5) vs. Darren Stewart (12-5, 1 NC)
Stewart has power at boxing range but I’m not sure he can thrive there against Kevin Holland.
Holland has shown himself to be good at keeping distance and also at falling into the clinch when that space is broken.
Add in Holland’s own durability and power and I think he gets the job done here.
Pick: Kevin Holland
(Last Predictions: 3/6, Total: 92/136, 68% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)