Colby Covington has long been seen as a high-ceiling prospect. He might soon now just how far his talents can take him in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
The once-beaten American Top Team welterweight will toe the line against 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Demian Maia in the UFC Fight Night 119 co-main event this Saturday at the Geraldo Jose de Almeida Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A win there could put Covington in position as a legitimate title contender at 170 pounds. The 28-year-old Clovis, California, native will enter the cage on a four-fight winning streak that has seen him defeat Jonathan Meunier, Max Griffin, Bryan Barberena and Dong Hyun Kim in succession. Covington last competed at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17, when he took a three-round unanimous decision from Kim in Kallang, Singapore.
As he prepares for his pivotal clash Maia, here are five things you might not know about Covington:
1. He was an accomplished amateur wrestler.
Covington won a National Junior College Athletic Association championship at Iowa Central Community College, where he went 34-0 as a freshman and roomed with two-time UFC light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones. He then went on to become an NCAA All-American and two-time Pac-10 conference champion at Oregon State University, graduating with a degree in sociology.
2. His base skills have served him well in the UFC.
Despite just eight appearances inside the Octagon, Covington ranks third among active Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweights in takedowns landed with 41, per FightMetric. Only Georges St. Pierre (87) and Johny Hendricks (61) have secured more. Meanwhile, Covington ranks sixth in takedown accuracy at 54.0 percent, trailing Robbie Lawler (75.0), St. Pierre (73.7), Omari Akhmedov (60.0), Keita Nakamura (57.1) and Alex Garcia (54.1).
3. As he has climbed the welterweight ladder, his degree of difficulty has increased.
Meunier, Griffin, Barberena and Kim -- the four men Covington has defeated during his current winning streak -- own a cumulative record of 56-13-1. That equates to an .800 winning percentage.
4. Despite his success, he cannot be classified as his high school’s best-known alumnus.
Covington graduated from Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon -- the same school that produced 2000 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jodi Ann Patterson.
5. He has grown accustomed to being the frontrunner.
“Chaos” has been the favorite in each of his first eight UFC bouts, according to BestFightOdds.com: -550 vs. Anying Wang, -650 vs. Wagner Silva Gomes, -350 vs. Mike Pyle, -140 vs. Warlley Alves, -330 vs. Meunier, -420 vs. Griffin, -400 vs. Barberena and -345 vs. Kim. Only Alves managed to spring the upset on Covington, as “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 winner submitted him with a first-round guillotine choke at UFC 194 in December 2015. Odds currently have Covington listed as a -140 favorite against Maia.