Pre-Fight Stock Report: UFC 245

By Jordan Colbert Dec 13, 2019
Listen to Roundtable: UFC 245 ‘Usman v. Covington’ on Spreaker.


The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 245 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday returns to Las Vegas to close out its pay-per-view schedule for 2019, and it will do so with a title tripleheader at T-Mobile Arena. Stakes are high on several fronts at UFC 245.

WHO HAS THE MOST TO GAIN?


Alexander Volkanovski: After going undefeated across seven appearances in the UFC’s featherweight division, including wins over all-time greats Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, Volkanovski finally receives the title shot that has eluded him for some time. In his bout against featherweight champion Max Holloway, Volkanovski has his work cut out for him. Volkanovski’s most likely road to victory is through dirty boxing in the clinch work. While Volkanovski sets a pace few can match—Holloway is just as good—he would be wise not to try and play that sort of game. Instead, Volkanovski should look to press his opponent against the cage early and often in an attempt to wear on Holloway and keep him on the defensive, instead of allowing him to get into a rhythm with his strikes. In order to do so, Volkanovski will have to overcome a significant height difference, but if he can consistently work his way inside, getting the belt wrapped around his waist does not seem out of the question.

Petr Yan: Throughout Yan’s two-year run through the UFC’s bantamweight division, few have managed to answer the striking onslaught the 26-year-old Russian contender brings to the table. Over five bouts inside of the UFC, Yan has worked his way into the division’s Top 5—an impressive feat but one not yet worthy of a title shot. Faber will attempt to stop the Yan hype train in its tracks in just his second appearance since coming out of retirement. While Yan’s level of competition has gone up progressively throughout his UFC tenure, this bout with Faber on the biggest card of the year will put eyes on the young Russian that have yet to bear witness to his world-class skills. If there was a perfect time for Yan to pick up another brutal finish, it is now considering a title shot may be on the line.

Geoff Neal: After he appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series, Neal has been perfect since signing with the UFC and comes into his feature prelim bout opposite Mike Perry at 4-0 with the promotion, with three of those victories coming by way of stoppage. Despite consistently stellar performances inside the Octagon, Neal has had trouble establishing himself as a contender inside a welterweight division with no shortage of contenders. His confrontation with Perry seems to have all the makings of a barnburner matchup pitting explosive striker against explosive striker, so if any opportunity can propel Neal into the conversation as a legitimate contender, it figures to be this one. If Neal can go out and deliver on the big stage against a fighter to whom the UFC has consistently givena promotional push, he stands a much better chance at finally getting an opportunity against top-ranked competition and further solidifying his home gym of Fortis MMA as a breeding ground for the sport’s top up-and-coming talent.

WHO HAS THE MOST TO LOSE?


Kamaru Usman: After what seems like an eternity of back-and-forth jaw jacking between the reigning welterweight champion and No. 1 contender Colby Covington, the time has finally come for two of the division’s best to lock horns inside the Octagon. Despite the high-profile nature of this match, Usman’s counterpart has much more to gain from it; as a result, Covington has fully enveloped himself in his role as the villain, and MMA fans are looking for Usman to deliver in the highest-profile bout of his career thus far. If Usman wins, it will put another notch on his belt, but if he loses, he will likely never hear the end of it considering the polarizing personality of his opponent. Usman’s best chance for success is establishing his dominance in the grappling department as quickly as possible. Covington sets a pace few can match, but that relentless aggression can be stifled if Usman employs his grappling attack.

Amanda Nunes: As 2019 comes to a close, it has become nearly indisputable that Nunes is the greatest female fighter of all-time. Despite this, Nunes has another stiff test in front of her in the form of Dutch striking specialist Germaine de Randamie. In a rematch of a bout that happened in 2013, Nunes can expect a much different fight. Since their original encounter, de Randamie has earned a UFC belt of her own and grown by leaps and bounds from the raw kickboxer she was when the duo first met. Nunes can expect de Randamie to be better in nearly all aspects of the fight game. Even so, a win does little for Nunes’ legacy, save for adding another title defense to the long list of achievements she already owns. However, the “Lioness” must remain vigilant in the standup exchanges. De Randamie has the power to shut out the lights with a single shot, and you can almost be certain that Nunes will look to utilize her Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills to get this fight to the mat, where she can look to end the fight via submission.

Jose Aldo: The former featherweight king returns to action for the first time since an early 2019 loss to Volkanovski and drops to 135 pounds for a Brazilian-versus-Brazilian showdown against fellow striking specialist Marlon Moraes. Aldo’s key to this bout will be how he handles the weight cut. If he can come through it without depleting himself too much, it will be fascinating to see if he can emerge as a contender as a bantamweight. However, if the drop in weight proves to be too great of a burden and results in a lackluster performance or worse, Aldo could fall even further out of the picture. He will need to use the size advantage he figures to enjoy by forcing Moraes into close quarters and teeing off with his signature flurries. Advertisement

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