Fighters Only’s UFC 245 preview is brought to you by 5Dimes.
It’s the last PPV card of the year and it’s a triple header. Three titles are up for grabs this weekend as the UFC looks to sign off 2019 with a bang in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best bets on the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight championship: Amanda Nunes vs Germaine De Randamie
Kicking off this triumvirate of title bouts is a rematch six years in the making. Since debuting in the UFC back in 2013, Amanda Nunes has quite literally left a trail of destruction through the 135lbs division and almost wrapped up 145lbs. Her Sophomore assignment was against Germaine De Randamie, herself only in her second fight in the promotion. It was a fight that Nunes won comfortably, and although she lost her next outing, it was her last loss as a professional fighter. She now sits at 9-0 in her last nine, collecting titles from Miesha Tate and Cyborg along the way. She has wins over three former champions at 135, one former champion at 145 and two wins over the current champion at 125lbs. And yet we still barely hear her mentioned in GOAT conversations.
Germaine De Randamie debuted with the UFC at a similar time to her opponent but has been far less active as a competitor. After beating Holly Holm to win the newly minted title at 145lbs she effectively vacated the belt rather than fight Cyborg. At the time, she claimed that she wouldn’t fight a cheat; harsh words considering how she won the title in the first place (to save you from Wikipedia it was by two extremely late blows that turned the tide in her favour). She finds herself back in the title picture after finishing Aspen Ladd in just 16 seconds, albeit potentially early and somewhat controversially. Unless she regains the belt, it could be the last Women’s fight at 145lbs due a lack of serious competition.
Clearly Amanda Nunes has improved with each fight since their first, whereas De Randamie has just gotten older. At 35 years of age, and being as inactive as she has been, I don’t see her making the necessary improvements needed to dethrone Nunes. There is always a punchers chance of victory but Nunes throws in such volume and with endless pressure. I can only see a successful defence inside the distance here.
Recommendation: Nunes Inside the Distance – 2 units at -150 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
UFC Featherweight championship: Max Holloway vs. Alex Volkanovski
In the official co main event of the evening we have Max Holloway making his 4th defence of the undisputed belt. Holloway picked up the interim title with a stoppage of Anthony Pettis, which was upgraded to the real thing when finishing Jose Aldo in their first encounter. The second saw an almost identical finish as Holloway once again despatched arguably the greatest 145lb’er (to date) ever to do it. An unsuccessful sojourn with Dustin Poirier at 155lbs for the interim title followed, showing the world that he can handle himself at 155, but his true home is back at 145 where he hasn’t lost in over six years.
Alex Volkanovski is the latest to try his luck at 145lbs. Unbeaten in the UFC at 6-0 he added the scalps of Darren Elkins, Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo to his record, all in relatively decisive fashion. What is impressive is his ability to adapt to his opponent. Australian fighters are not typically recognised for wrestling ability (or ability to defend against a solid wrestler) but Volkanovski demonstrated that in spades as he picked apart Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo. In each of the last three bouts the question has been asked about whether he has been elevated too high, too quickly and in each the answer was emphatic. Now he is at the top of the mountain and must do what no man since Conor McGregor has done and take down the king.
Every few years we see a changing of the guard when it comes to divisional champions, Aldo held for a while, then McGregor and now Max Holloway. Does Alex Volkanovski have a legitimate chance of victory? Yes, he does, but I just don’t see how he achieves it. Holloway is utterly relentless in his pursuit inside the cage, and unless his opponent can translate 155lb power into a 145lb frame then I see Max taking a lopsided decision here.
Recommendation: Max Holloway – 3 units at -175 (4/7) @ 5Dimes
UFC welterweight championship: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
Bringing us to the main event is the current champion at 170lbs, Kamaru Usman. Usman is undefeated in the UFC, going 10-0 in his run which includes winning TUF: 21. Despite being matched relatively favourably in the early days, he holds a win over Leon Edwards, (potentially his next opponent) which incidentally was Edwards’ last loss as a professional. After entering the UFC as a stoppage machine, Usman has demonstrated a solid wrestling base which he has used to grind out 8/10 wins by decision. Its not pretty, but as Tyron Woodley, Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia found, it is effective. Recognising the ground game level of those opponents, it is even more impressive that Usman was completely dominant against each.
Colby Covington is the challenger on this occasion. The former interim champion at 170lbs, he was stripped after failing to agree terms on a unification bout against then-champion Woodley. It sparked a bad time for Covington in the UFC, and he ended up sitting on the sidelines for the best part of 14 months and had a few run ins with Dana White, amongst others. While clearly a very accomplished wrestler, Covington chooses to promote himself as an obnoxious braggadocio, it has both won and lost him a huge fanbase. It’s a character development that has seen him make the foray into professional wrestling as well as MMA.
This, for me, is the closest of the title matches and the one most likely to see a new champion crowned. Both fighters are excellent wrestlers, NCAA division II vs NCAA division I, so the edge here goes to Covington. If the fight remains on the ground and Covington can secure the top position, he needs to remember he is facing a BJJ black belt; advantage goes to Usman. As the styles collide, I am banking on Usman to use his physical attributes, mainly a 4” reach advantage, to out strike his opponent en route to a close but clear decision.
Recommendation: Usman Wins by Decision – 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes