Written by Kieran Green ( @Kierlfc12)
Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley go head-to-head in the main event of UFC Fight Night 178 tonight, in what will be its final instalment before the return of the infamous ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi.
As we eagerly await a night of chaos inside the UFC Apex in Vegas this evening, I have drawn together my predictions for some of the biggest fights on the card, and how I think they will pan out.
Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (31-13)
The incredibly hyped Khamzat Chimaev faces off in a middleweight bout against Gerald Meerschaert tonight, in what will be his first fight since he rocketed to fame on Fight Island during the summer.
Stock in Chimaev rose significantly in Abu-Dhabi, after the Swedish powerhouse fought twice across different weight divisions within the space of ten days – winning both emphatically.
It is because of this that Chimaev enters the contest tonight as the favourite, having looked unstoppable in his last outings in the octagon.
The Swede’s explosive striking has been somewhat impossible for his previous opponents to nullify, whilst his high-level grappling abilities have also earned him comparisons to Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Meerschaert enters the competition tonight boasting a wealth of experience, with many confident that he has already dealt with whatever Chimaev can throw at him.
The American mixed martial artist is renowned for his own prowess on the ground, a skill that has made him notorious for submissions within the 185lb division.
Whilst both are capable of striking to a high-level, I expect the bout to feature an incredible amount of grappling work on the canvas.
Chimaev may look to tire his opponent by making him work from his back and could play into his guard for large spells of the fight, but Meerschaert will surely be preparing for an eager start from his younger opponent and could use this as an opportunity to take him to the latter stages – somewhere he hasn’t been yet in the UFC.
My prediction: Chimaev via unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone (36-15-1NC) vs Niko Price (14-4-1NC)
UFC veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will look to put an end to his four-fight losing streak, as he squares off against Niko Price in an exciting welterweight matchup.
Cowboy had previously lost to three elite lightweight contenders before being somewhat robbed of a decision against Anthony Pettis back in May, so it would be wise to consider the severity of this losing streak before writing him off.
The best plan of action for Cowboy tonight would definitely be to wrestle.
His opponent boasts a three inch reach advantage and is certainly going to land significantly in exchanges on the feet, meaning the 37 year old has to find a way to limit this.
Cerrone is still an absolute workhorse, and will look to use his underrated grappling skills to put himself into positions where Price cannot land his powerful shots.
That being said, it would be foolish to not expect some high level Muy-Thai from Cerrone – something Price will have to deal with for long spells tonight.
Cowboy loves a dogfight, and uses powerful high-kicks to break down the opposition, opening them up for various other attacks.
Niko Price on the other hand, is an incredibly dangerous fighter, having secured finishes in all but one of his victories in the cage.
Whilst he has had a choppy time in the UFC as of late, “The Hybrid” will be looking to establish himself within a busy welterweight division, with a win over a big name tonight surely earning him a shot at a ranked opponent in the future.
Price will be wary of Cowboys kicks leaving him open for a takedown, and will look to land power punches on the inside to get his opponent out of there quickly.
My prediction: Cerrone via split decision
The All-Time Leader!
🤠 @CowboyCerrone is back to add to the record books![ LIVE tonight on #ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/xOZShPfrMH
— UFC (@ufc) September 19, 2020
Colby Covington (15-2) vs Tyron Woodley (19-5-1)
Tonight’s main event brings forth a highly anticipated grudge clash between the former welterweight champion, and the former interim welterweight champion.
Tyron Woodley has had a tough time of late in the UFC, losing his belt to Kamaru Usman in 2019, before being schooled by Gilbert Burns back in May.
At 38 years old now, many feel that Woodley has faded, and is no longer the powerful force that he once was in the welterweight division.
The former champion was renowned for his right hand that carries tremendous knockout power, but has struggled to effectively land with it in his last few fights, instead looking totally lost and uninspired.
When Woodley struggles to land his big right he often backs onto the fence and just covers up from the onslaught, which is something he absolutely cannot do tonight against a top striker in Covington if he is to survive until the ‘championship rounds’.
The man himself has recognised that he has not thrown his hands in his last two fights, and has vowed to ‘let them fly’ tonight which could be huge if he is to stick to his word.
I believe Woodley could cause a lot of trouble for Colby if he shows up motivated, and effectively lands on him in the pocket.
The key is to not let his head drop if the right hand isn’t landing. If Woodley can keep moving with confidence and look to other domains such as his wrestling, then he could prove hard to beat.
Covington meanwhile, will be looking forward to his first outing in the octagon since his own failed title shot against Usman back in 2019.
Working primarily from a southpaw stance, Covington proved he was more than just a wrestler in his most recent bout.
The controversial fighter landed 143 strikes against the current champion last time out, and will be willing to exchange with Woodley on the feet at any time.
The manner in which Colby was halted during his title challenge shows that there could be fragilities within his guard, with Woodley incredibly capable of exposing these once more if he can lock in that big overhand right.
Covington will be eager to set up another meeting with Usman, with a win tonight essential in his bid to do so. He is definitely able to match Woodley in any department, and has the tools to come out on top in Vegas tonight.
My prediction: Covington via TKO