Sep 15, 2020
Sep 15, 2020

UFC Fight Night preview: Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington

Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington betting preview and odds

Woodley and Covington stats

Woodley vs. Covington predictions: Where is the value?

Woodley and Covington's fighting styles analysed

UFC Fight Night preview: Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington

UFC Fight Night 178 looks set to feature an intriguing welterweight bout as former champion and #5 Tyron Woodley takes on former interim champion and #2 Colby Covington. Can 'The Chosen One' recover from back-to-back defeats to earn his first UFC victory in two years, or will Covington emerge victorious to state his case for another shot at the title? Read on to inform your Woodley vs. Covington predictions.

Event: UFC Fight Night 178

Date: September 19, 2020

Venue: UFC APEX (Las Vegas, US)

Woodley vs. Covington: Tale of the tape

Tyron 'The Chosen One' Woodley


Colby 'Choas' Covington




175 cm


180 cm

78 kg


77 kg

188 cm


183 cm


UFC record



Overall MMA record



Striking accuracy



UFC ranking


This fight was originally slated to headline UFC on ESPN 15 on August 22, but was rescheduled following Woodley’s request for more time to recover after his defeat against Gilbert Burns in May.

Woodley has endured mixed fortune in recent years. The 38-year-old became UFC Welterweight Champion courtesy of a first round knockout victory against Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 in July 2016. He then successfully defended the belt for four bouts (three victories and one draw), a run that concluded with a submission win against Darren Till at UFC 228 in September 2018.

The opportunity for another title shot against current champion Kamaru Usman is a palpable motivation for both fighters.

In his next fight, Woodley lost the title to current champion Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision at UFC 235 in March 2019. After a 15-month absence from the octagon, he returned to face Gilbert Burns for UFC on ESPN 9 and was defeated in the same manner.

Meanwhile, after making his UFC debut in May 2015, Covington deservedly crafted a reputation as a formidable welterweight combatant by emerging victorious from all but one of his opening nine UFC fights.

That granted him an opportunity to become champion by taking on Usman at UFC 245 in December 2019. However, on that occasion he fell just short, suffering a TKO defeat in the fifth and final round only 50 seconds before the bout would have been settled by decision.

Suitably, the opportunity to propel themselves back into the limelight and potentially earn another shot at Usman is a palpable motivation for both fighters. The bout’s significance has also been highlighted by their increasingly heated pre-fight exchanges.

Indeed, Woodley has promised to “let [his] hands go” and claimed “I might even punch him in the sack” in an apparent open admission that he is willing to resort to underhand tactics. Likewise, Covington has predicted that Woodley will “leave the fight on a stretcher” and warned “after I’m done with you, you’re not going to be recognisable to even your family.”

Analysing the Woodley vs. Covington odds

Covington is strongly favoured by the market at 1.294*, which translates to just over a 74% probability of winning. By comparison, Woodley is set at 3.710*, equating to an approximate 26% likelihood.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Woodley’s odds are considerably longer than the average closing odds for his last five bouts of 1.73. Of those, he was favourite on four occasions (winning two and losing two) and defeated Stephen Thompson on the one instance he was the underdog.

In his recent bouts, the odds for Covington's opponents have fluctuated wildly.

Woodley’s odds have a recent track record of avoiding significant developments and have not moved between open and close by a greater margin than 0.23 for his last five bouts. Notably, they tend to move by slightly larger margins when they lengthen. Therefore, if you feel he will cause an upset but also be cemented as the underdog by fight night, you may enjoy greater value by holding off on any bets until then.

Conversely, Covington has been priced markedly shorter than the average closing odds for his last five fights of 1.84. Indeed, the shortest he closed at among these was 1.32, ahead of his victory against Lawler. Of the bouts, he took the victory as favourite on three occasions and recorded a win and defeat apiece on the two instances he was the underdog.

Covington’s odds are slightly more accustomed to notable movements, shifting by a mean margin of 0.26 during this time. However, it is worth noting that his opponents’ tend to wildly fluctuate, and their odds have moved between open and close by an average of 0.46 for the same bouts. Of these, two witnessed their odds shorten, while three had their odds lengthen.

Therefore, it is particularly important to keep an eye on Woodley’s odds, as recent history dictates that it is feasible he could be priced at far from 3.710 in either direction come September 19.

Woodley vs. Covington: Fighting styles analysed

Among the reasons this is such an enticing fight is that Woodley and Covington are arguably two of the most proficient all-rounders in the welterweight division. Of Woodley’s 19 MMA victories to date, seven were via knockout, five were won by submission and the remaining seven were awarded by decision.

Both Woodley and Covington have recently been involved in numerous bouts that have lasted the distance.

Equally, Covington’s 15 MMA wins feature two knockouts, five via submission and eight settled by decision, demonstrating that both possess an expansive skill set and facility to adjust approach as the situation demands.

Woodley’s aptitude for controlling bouts is greatly assisted by his thoroughly impressive 90% takedown defence rate, which enables him to dictate how and where the fight develops. While he does not absorb as many significant strikes per minute as Covington (2.65 to 3.02), he consistently demonstrates confidence in his ability to take hits, which allows him to predominantly focus on his own strengths.

Indeed, his preference is to craft opportunities to unleash his feared right hook, which has proven itself against multiple opponents. Of his seven knockout victories, six were achieved with his fists, and all of those came in the opening round.

While that might be his preferred tactic, in recent bouts he has had to resort to grinding out wins over the distance, with five of his last six fights lasting the duration. Again, he cannot match Covington for significant strikes landed per minute (2.38 to 4.17), but is proficient at blunting his opponent’s attacks. Most famously, he denied Till a single strike during his victory against him.

Covington finds himself in similar territory, having recorded five successive unanimous decision victories before his loss against Usman. As the aforementioned stats imply, his approach features a greater penchant for all-out attack, with his weaker striking accuracy of 37% exhibiting a preference for quantity over quality. Despite this, he is capable of defending himself when required, sporting the same strike defence rate as Woodley of 56%.

The 32-year-old also enjoys wrestling his opponents in an attempt to disarm them. He boasts a massive 5.69 takedowns per 15 minutes to Woodley’s 0.39, while managing a superior grappling rate of 51% to 33%. Despite this, he still launches a higher proportion of attacks at his opponent’s head (68% to 58%), so don’t be surprised if that is where he focuses his strikes should he successfully take Woodley off his feet.

Woodley vs. Covington: Where is the value?

Ultimately, it isn’t difficult to craft an argument suggesting why Covington is the favourite for this bout – he is the higher ranked fighter, in better form and possesses more encouraging stats across several components.

A decision win seems the obvious value bet for those confident Covington will comply with the market.

If Usman is the benchmark for the welterweight division, then Covington also seems the more proficient combatant. While unlike Woodley he didn’t last the duration in their fight, he did land 143 strikes on the champion to Woodley’s 34.

As a consequence, Woodley may not possess his usual luxury of adapting his strategy as the fight unfolds. If Covington unleashes his habitual onslaught from the outset, then Woodley will require a near flawless defensive performance to avoid the prospect of a points defeat, while attempting his preferred knockout win could leave him vulnerable to the sheer quantity of Covington’s attacks.

Considering Woodley’s formidable defensive abilities, Covington will likely be unconcerned with taking the fight to the ground or indeed angling himself towards a preferred method of triumph provided he is simply outhitting his opponent.

With this in mind, a decision win seems the obvious value bet for those confident Covington will comply with the market, whereas an early knockout could reluctantly prove Woodley’s most promising route to victory.

Odds subject to change

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