Nov 3, 2021
Nov 3, 2021

UFC 268 preview: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2 betting preview and odds

Usman and Covington stats

Usman vs. Covington 2 predictions: Where is the value?

Usman and Covington's fighting styles analysed

UFC 268 preview: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2

One of the most heated rivalries in MMA will be reignited when Kamaru Usman defends the UFC Welterweight Championship against Colby Covington at UFC 268. Will ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ successfully maintain his undefeated UFC record, or will ‘Chaos’ exact revenge for his defeat at UFC 245? Read on to inform your Usman vs. Covington predictions.

Event: UFC 268

Date: November 6, 2021

Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, US)

Usman vs. Covington: Tale of the tape

Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman

Fighter

Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington

34

Age

33

183 cm

Height

185 cm

77 kg

Weight

77 kg

193 cm

Reach

183 cm

13-0-0

UFC record

11-2-0

19-1-0

Overall MMA record

16-2-0

54%

Striking accuracy

37%

Champion

UFC ranking

#1

Usman initially claimed the UFC Welterweight Championship with a unanimous decision victory against Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in March 2019. Covington was the first of three fighters that he has since defended his title against across four bouts, and on that occasion, he emerged victorious with a punch-led fifth round TKO win at UFC 245 in December 2019.

As mentioned, Usman is now undefeated in 13 UFC bouts, from which he has earned four Performance of the Night awards and a Fight of the Night award. The 34-year-old is also currently ranked #1 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings and has not lost an MMA bout of any kind since May 2013.

Covington can boast similarly impressive form and his aforementioned loss to Usman was his only defeat across his last nine fights. The 33-year-old has previously secured the interim Welterweight Championship courtesy of beating Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225, although he was later stripped of his title when he proved to be unable to compete at UFC 228.

Usman has been unreserved in talking up his chances ahead of the bout, declaring: “Last time out I said I would punish him for four and a half rounds and that’s exactly what I did. I think in this next fight he’s going to try to be a little more strategic, but he’s going to quickly realise that’s not going to work and he’ll just be stuck in there getting beat up.”

Meanwhile, Covington has downplayed the ability of Usman’s recent opponents, saying: “I’m knocking out world champions like Woodley, while he’s knocking out lightweights and guys that shouldn’t be in there with him. Those were easy paychecks and the only reason he fought those guys is because he knew he was going to win.”

Analysing the Usman vs. Covington odds

The betting market lists Usman as the strong favourite for this bout at 1.308*, equating to an approximate 73% chance of victory. Covington has been priced as the underdog at 3.600*, translating to a 27% likelihood of winning on the night. The Over/Under for rounds has been set at 3.5, with 1.689* for over and 2.230* for under.

Usman has notably been priced shorter than his closing odds ahead of his last bout with Covington, when he closed at 1.510, as well as the average closing odds for his last five fights of 1.642. For these, he was the favourite on every occasion except ahead of his victory over Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. His odds more commonly tend to shorten when he is the favourite, suggesting those confident he will comply with market expectations may enjoy slightly better value by placing their bets sooner rather than later.

Conversely, Covington has been priced longer compared to when he last faced Usman (2.700) to the extent that the market is indicating that he possesses a weaker chance of victory than any of Usman’s last five opponents. Of Covington’s last five fights, he won on all four occasions he closed as favourite and was defeated when he closed as the underdog against Usman in 2019.

Ahead of that fight, Covington’s odds lengthened by a margin of 0.35 between open and close, meaning that if you suspect he will achieve an upset, it may be within your interests to place your bets nearer to fight night.

Usman vs. Covington: Fighting styles analysed

Usman was previously revered for being one of the most effective fighters across the entirety of UFC at controlling fights and grinding out victories over the distance, and his 11 straight wins from December 2015 to July 2020 featured nine unanimous decision victories. However, in more recent bouts he appears to have adopted a more aggressive approach that has culminated in three knockouts in his last four wins.

Both Usman and Covington are proficient at earning decision wins.

This is perhaps unsurprising, considering Usman’s stats point to an underlying versatility. He launches just 51% of his attacks from a standing position (compared to 75% for Covington) while posting impressive numbers for both significant strikes landed per minute (4.66) and takedowns per 15 minutes (3.22). Usman is equally capable of relying upon strong defensive attributes, and aside from his intimidating 100% takedown defence rate, he defends 58% of significant strikes and absorbs just 2.33 per minute – exactly half the number he lands.

Therefore, while Usman may approach this fight intending to maintain form and earn a quick knockout, he is certainly well-placed to balance attack and defence in a bid to land more strikes and ensure a points victory if required. Indeed, Usman’s considerably superior striking accuracy (54% to 37%) and reach (193 cm to 183 cm) should lend themselves well to both potential routes to victory.

Covington finds himself in similar territory, having recorded five successive unanimous decision victories before his loss against Usman and, following that, a TKO win against Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night 178. His approach features a greater penchant for all-out attacks, and the fact that his 3.90 significant strikes per minute and 5.69 takedowns per 15 minutes are offset by lacklustre accuracy indicates a preference for quantity over quality.

While Covington launches attacks less frequently from the ground (12% compared to 30% for Usman), he is also arguably the more proficient wrestler of the pair and records both a superior submission rate (0.20 to 0.14 per 15 minutes) and grappling accuracy (51% to 47%). Despite this, he still launches a higher proportion of attacks at his opponent’s head (68% to 61%), so don’t be surprised if that is where he focuses his strikes should he successfully take Usman off his feet.

As a consequence, Covington may be inclined to keep the fight upright as little as possible. On the assumption that Usman will respond to such tactics by countering his attacks in a bid to land more strikes, Covington will also be relying on a near flawless attacking performance and/or an uncharacteristically sloppy display from Usman.

Usman vs. Covington: Where is the value?

In-depth analysis is not required to assert why Usman is the comfortable favourite for this clash. Indeed, he is a defending champion sporting a thoroughly impressive winning streak and has not only previously exhibited his ability to defeat a broad range of opponents utilising different styles, but also Covington himself.

However, given Usman has two clearly defined routes to victory at his disposal, assessing whether or not the bout will last the distance is more difficult. He may be inclined to try and match the overall aggressiveness of Covington’s approach, particularly if Covington attempts to take the fight to the ground from the outset and Usman fears that may harm his chances of a decision victory.

Meanwhile, none of Covington’s last seven wins have featured a submission, but that is perhaps the most likely scenario in which he claims the belt. He will likely need to exert his superior wrestling abilities as much as possible on the bout to stand any chance of victory and perhaps ominously, Usman’s only defeat of his MMA career to date came in such a manner.

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