UFC Fight Night Covington vs. Woodley: Live updates and analysis

Tyron Woodley has been in Colby Covington’s crosshairs for years.

The first time Covington started calling out Woodley was in June 2017 when Woodley was the UFC welterweight champion. The fight never came to fruition then or after several other tries over the past few years. On Saturday that changes.

The elite welterweights will meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. It will be a true grudge match with a beef that dates all the way back to the first time they trained with each other in 2014.

“He has to live up to all the stuff he’s been talking,” Woodley told ESPN’s UFC Fight Camp this week.

The fight will have title ramifications in the welterweight division. ESPN has Covington ranked No. 2 in the world at 170 pounds, while Woodley is ranked No. 8.

Covington (15-2) has not fought since a fifth-round TKO loss to champion Kamaru Usman in a title fight at UFC 245 last December. The controversial Florida resident has a new training home at MMA Masters in Miami after a messy falling out with American Top Team. Covington, 32, had won seven straight prior to the Usman loss. He is a former interim welterweight champ.

Woodley (19-5-1) is on a two-fight losing streak. He dropped the title to Usman at UFC 235 in March 2019. Since then, he has lost to top contender Gilbert Burns. Woodley, 38, was unbeaten in seven straight prior to the past two fights and remains one of the top welterweights in UFC history with three successful title defenses.

In the co-main event Saturday, UFC wins leader Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on action fighter Niko Price. Cerrone (36-15, 1 NC) has lost four straight and is looking to turn things around. Price (14-4, 1 NC) has alternated wins and losses in his past five fights.

Also on a stacked main card, top prospect Khamzat Chimaev meets Gerald Meerschaert, Johnny Walker faces Ryan Spann in a battle of up-and-coming light heavyweights and Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern meets Randa Markos.

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the fights as they happen in Las Vegas.

Fight in progress:

Men’s featherweight: Mirsad Bektić (13-3, 6-3 UFC, -523) vs. Damon Jackson (17-3-1 1NC, 0-1 1NC UFC, +359)

Results:

Women’s flyweight: Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1, 2-1 UFC) defeats Mara Romero Borella (12-9, 2-5 UFC) by first-round submission

Recap to come.

Women’s bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark (10-6, 3-2 UFC) defeats Sarah Alpar (9-5, 0-1 UFC) by third-round TKO

For a second straight week, referee Chris Tognoni’s decisions will be a talking point coming out of a UFC card.

Clark beat Alpar by TKO via strikes at 4:21 of the third round in a women’s bantamweight bout. But the fight arguably could have been over prior to that sequence.

Earlier in the third round, Clark landed a hard knee to Alpar’s face as Alpar was falling to the canvas. Tognoni paused the fight, believing at the time that it was an illegal knee. But it was not. Only Alpar’s feet were touching the mat when the knee landed, so it was not a foul.

Tognoni did correct himself. However, instead of calling the bout a TKO finish right there, Tognoni allowed it to go on. Alpar was clearly damaged badly by the knee and her face was pouring blood.

“I was like, did I win?” Clark said in her postfight interview. “He looked like he was stopping it.”

Clark continued to maul a compromised Alpar for another few minutes. Tognoni finally stepped in when Clark landed another vicious knee to Alpar’s face following a hard right hand. In the end, it was one of the best performances of Clark’s career despite the confusion.

“I think the ending was even better anyway,” Clark said.

Clark, 32, snapped a two-fight losing streak with the victory. The Australia native has looked like a new fighter since moving to CSA Gym in California. Alpar, a 29-year-old Texan, had a three-fight winning streak snapped.

Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s featherweight: Darrick Minner (25-11, 1-1 UFC) defeats T.J. Laramie (12-4, 0-1 UFC) by first-round guillotine

It’s a moment Minner (25-11) has worked hard and long for. The 30-year-old has been fighting professionally since 2012, and he didn’t make it to the UFC until his 34th professional fight. He went into Saturday’s contest a pretty significant betting underdog, but proved oddsmakers wrong by recording his 21st first-round finish.

Minner looked very comfortable from the opening bell. He went to work with dirty boxing in the clinch, working Laramie to the body with punches. Laramie didn’t seem to like the early offense and looked for a takedown, which opened the door for Minner’s guillotine. Minner becomes only the sixth fighter this year to win a fight without absorbing a single significant strike.

Minner improves to 1-1 in the UFC. He lost his debut on short notice against Grant Dawson. Laramie, who just earned a UFC contract on Aug. 11, drops to 0-1.

“He pushed me against the cage and thought that grind was going to work,” Minner said. “I slowed my game down. People might not think so because it was a quick submission. My fight IQ is just going to keep growing.”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s bantamweight: Randy Costa (6-1, 2-1 UFC) defeats Journey Newson (9-3 1NC, 0-2 1NC UFC) by first-round KO

Costa apparently likes to get his work done early.

The 26-year-old from Taunton, Massachusetts, continued his run of fast finishes by crushing Newson with a head-kick knockout just 41 seconds into Round 1. Costa has first-round KOs in all six of his career wins, and this was his second-fastest one.

Costa stalked his opponent in the opening moments of the fight, lining up his range, then threw a left hand that Newson dodged. But right behind the punch came a kick, that landed flush on the chin and dropped Newson stiff on the canvas. Costa pounced with punches before being pulled away by the referee.

Newson, 31, fights out of Portland, Oregon. He still is winless in the UFC, after losing his debut last year and having a no contest in February.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s bantamweight: Andre Ewell (17-6, 4-2 UFC) defeats Irwin Rivera (10-6, 1-2 UFC) by split decision

Ewell and Rivera made an early bid for Fight of the Night.

In the end, Ewell earned a split-decision (28-29, 29-29, 29-28) win in the bantamweight contest. But the bout itself was action from start to finish. Ewell landed some huge shots in every round and outworked Rivera throughout. Somehow, the durable Rivera was able to survive and look like the fresher fighter in the final minutes.

Ewell started very strongly. He landed some beautiful combinations, snapping Rivera’s head back with straight left hands. Rivera had a nice blitzing combo and a jumping knee in the first round, as well. But Ewell was able to have success on the ground, briefly getting Rivera’s back at one point.

Both men slowed down a bit in the second after a very fast-paced beginning of the fight. Ewell stuck with his technical boxing, though, finding a home over and over for that left hand, usually preceded by a jab. In the second, he also went to the body and hurt Rivera at one point with a left to the midsection.

Rivera attempted to rally in the third. But Ewell kept up with the combinations and did big damage with a punching flurry. Rivera continued coming forward, even in the closing minutes, landing a combination and taking Ewell down. Rivera was attempting ground and pound as the fight came to an end.

Ewell, 32, has won two straight and three of his last four. The California native has four wins via decision since 2018, tied for the most in the bantamweight division with Merab Dvalishvili, per ESPN Stats & Info. Rivera, 31, has dropped two of three in the UFC, all in the last four months.

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s bantamweight: Tyson Nam (20-11-1, 2-2 UFC) defeats Jerome Rivera (10-3, 0-1 UFC) by second-round TKO

Nam recorded his 11th career knockout at the 1:34 mark of the second round.

Usually a flyweight, Nam (20-11-1) fought Rivera (10-2) at the bantamweight 135-pound limit. The finish came when Nam knocked Rivera down with a right hand and followed it with hard strikes standing over his guard. It’s Nam’s second consecutive win in the UFC, after suffering back-to-back losses to open his UFC career in late 2019 and early 2020.

The bout was competitive up until the finish. Rivera targeted Nam’s legs with kicks, while Nam focused on the body and the head. This was Nam’s third appearance already of 2020. Rivera, a former Contender Series alum, falls to 0-1 in the promotion.

“I really want to fight Joseph Benavidez,” Nam said. “He’s a legend and we’re almost around the same age. That would feel great to fight him.

“It’s the beginning of something, this late in my career. They say fine wine does age. I’m just that.”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Still to come:

Welterweight: Colby Covington (15-2, 10-2 UFC, -360) vs. Tyron Woodley (19-5-1, 9-4-1 UFC, +290)
Welterweight: Donald Cerrone (36-15, 23-12 UFC, +120) vs. Niko Price (14-4 1NC, 6-4 1NC UFC, -140)
Middleweight: Khamzat Chimaev (8-0, 2-0 UFC, -400) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (31-13, 6-5 UFC, +320)
Light heavyweight: Johnny Walker (17-5, 3-2 UFC, -120) vs. Ryan Spann (18-5, 4-0 UFC, +100)
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (8-1, 3-1 UFC, -165) vs. Randa Markos (10-9-1, 6-7-1 UFC, +145)
Middleweight: Kevin Holland (18-5, 5-2 UFC, -240) vs. Darren Stewart (12-5 1 NC, 5-4-1 NC UFC, +200)
Men’s flyweight: Jordan Espinosa (15-7, 2-2 UFC, -110) vs. David Dvořák (18-3, 1-0 UFC, -110)

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