Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight grappling aces Demian Maia and Colby Covington will collide this Saturday (Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 inside Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Unfortunately for fans of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, his recent resurgence and seven-fight win streak did not culminate in a title win. Despite the setback, the 39-year-old competitor is looking to make a quick return with his eyes set on the UFC all-time wins record. Meanwhile, Covington has been making a name for himself in a pair of ways: Annoying Twitter trash talk and actually beating the shit out of tough fighters. Winner of seven of eight fights inside the Octagon, Covington has a chance to announce himself as an imminent title challenger with a victory here.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each athlete:
Key Wins: Jorge Masvidal (UFC 211), Carlos Condit (UFC on FOX 21), Neil Magny (UFC 190), Rick Story (UFC 160), Gunnar Nelson (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (UFC 214), Anderson Silva (UFC 112), Rory MacDonald (UFC 170), Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night 29)
Keys to Victory: Maia is the sport’s premiere jiu-jitsu fighter. There’s not much secrecy to his game: Maia intends to land a single-leg takedown or back take from it, advance to dominant position, and then strangle his opponent.
There’s not much for him to update in this fight.
The bottom line here really is that both men are grapplers. Maia is the jiu-jitsu representative with some great wrestling, while Covington is a stud wrestler with some smooth grappling. They may throw punches occasionally, but I’d estimate it will take about 30 seconds before someone shoots for a takedown.
Maia wants to be that someone. From his single-leg chain, it’s insanely difficult to stop Maia’s combination of dump, trip, and back take. Covington may be a strong wrestler, but if Maia gets on top, his ability to lock guys down while threatening the choke and conserving energy is pretty legendary at this point.
Key Wins: Dong Hyun Kim (UFC Fight Night 111), Bryan Barberena (UFC on FOX 22), Mike Pyle (UFC 187)
Key Losses: Warlley Alves (UFC 194)
Keys to Victory: Covington has a reputation for being boring, and it’s a bit undeserved. The NCAA D1 All-American certainly makes use of his stellar wrestling, but he’s also dropped fighters, landed submissions, and generally avoids lay-and-pray.
Covington beats up people.
There are several keys for Covington here, and the first is conditioning. Covington pushes an insane pace, one that Maia cannot hope to match unless he’s constantly in control. Therefore, Covington’s primary goal in the first half of the fight should be making Maia work and exhausting that gas tank.
Covington is an aggressive fighter, and he needs to rely on that attribute. Most of Maia’s opponents are hesitant at range … Covington should not be. His wrestling and scrambling are excellent, enough to make Maia struggle for takedowns even if well-timed. That means Covington can move forward with hard punches and kicks, rather than allow Maia to control range like everyone else. In addition, Covington should be looking for takedowns himself. Like his opponent, Covington is a fantastic chain wrestler, and Maia will have a hard time landing singles and back takes if he’s busy defending them himself.
Bottom Line: In a stacked Welterweight division, this is a fantastic match up of well-respected veteran and fast-rising prospect.
Losing a title fight never feels good, but things could be worse. Maia remains a Top 5-ranked athlete, and he’s been given a tough test here. It’s hard to speculate on how many wins Maia needs to earn a second Welterweight shot, but if Tyron Woodley loses his strap anytime soon, the path is open for Maia. It really wouldn’t require that long a win streak, especially if his victories come against top competition like Covington.
Sadly, if Maia loses a second consecutive fight opposite a fighter 10 years his junior, he’ll be pushed out of the title picture. On the bright side, the potential for him to capture the all-time UFC win record does still exist.
Meanwhile, this is a massive opportunity for Covington. If he can continue to dominate like he has been, Covington has perhaps a stronger argument for a title shot than anyone else. Plus, his endless conditioning does make for an intriguing match up with the champion. If Covington does fall victim to Maia’s tricks, it will be costly. He’s built up a fair bit of momentum, and other contenders from his generation like Darren Till and Kamaru Usman would be quick to take his place.
At UFC Fight Night 119, Demian Maia and Colby Covington will face off in the co-main event. Which man will come out on top of this grappler’s war?