UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal Predictions
Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington
This tale of former training partners turned bitter enemies has been well documented and makes it clear that there’s a lot at stake here, but it feels like there’s more weight on Masvidal’s shoulders.
The reason for that is that though his stock was very high not so long ago during an impressive three-fight winning streak that suddenly made him one of the UFC’s top stars, he’s since been both manhandled by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman on the mat in their first encounter and then clean KO’d for the first time in his career in their second meeting.
Therefore, a third loss in a row would be a big blow to his reputation, especially given the highly personal rivalry between him and Covington, and truth be told it’s a match-up that stylistically doesn’t appear to favor him.
Masvidal has always been more capable on the mat than he’s been given credit for, but at the same time, Usman already showed the problems he can have against a dominant wrestler, and Covington is very much cut from that same cloth.
Meanwhile, on the feet Masvidal remains a slick boxing technician and will have the technical advantage over Covington, but ‘Chaos’ has sharpened his own stand-up ability even since his prior days training with ‘Gamebred’, and will use that to help stay somewhat competitive while applying pressure and looking for opportunities to get the fight to the mat.
It has to be pointed out that Covington also holds two losses against Usman, but he was more competitive in those fights than his rival here and I do think that he should have enough of an edge with his strong wrestling work to frustrate Masvidal and the crowd on his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Colby Covington to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Renato Moicano
Dos Anjos was originally expected to face Rafael Fiziev, but with his opponent withdrawing due to a positive Covid test, he now faces Moicano instead on less than a week’s notice.
Moicano fought just a few weeks ago, notching up his second rear-naked choke submission in a row. Those back-to-back wins were much needed to put some distance between him and his previous run of three losses in four fights due to strikes, which had left serious concerns about his chin.
That was unfortunate because Moicano certainly is a talented fighter who, durability issues aside, can strike well on the feet, albeit with little in the way of stopping power. On the mat he’s far more dangerous however, being a very skilled and assured grappler who has a proven record over the years as a submission finishern.
In dos Anjos he’s facing a former lightweight champion though, and a very well-rounded one at that. For a few years RDA tried his luck at welterweight, and while he had some significant success to begin with he did big a hasty retreat back to lightweight after a spell in which he lost four out of five fights. It’s worth noting though that he was fighting top-tier talents at that time and was never finished, taking the likes of Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Michael Chiesa to the scorecards.
That’s a testament to his skills, durability and cardio, and while he’s no longer in his prime at 37-years-old, RDA remains technically sound enough on the mat to not be afraid of Moicano and his better striking and pressure on the feet, together with the fact that his opponent has had no time to prepare for what is for some reason being kept as a five-rounder, will be key here on his way to a decision victory.
Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Edson Barboza vs. Bryce Mitchell
After wins over Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos, UFC veteran Barboza seemed to be settling in nicely to life at featherweight, but he’s since suffered a TKO loss to Giga Chikadze and now goes up against an undefeated fighter on the rise in Mitchell, who holds a 14-0 record overall, including five victories in the UFC so far.
In the striking department there’s no doubt that it’s Barboza who holds the aces here. He’s long been known as one of the best technical, dynamic strikers in the promotion and is equally deadly whether throwing punches or kicks, and aiding his cause will be a 1″ height and 5″ reach advantage.
On the other hand, striking is usually just a means to an end for Mitchell as he’s far more interested in setting up opportunities to get the fight to the mat, where he excels via his fast-paced, crafty grappling ability.
If Barboza can prevent a few takedowns and create some opportunities to let his strikes go then he could have a real chance of getting a finish here, but I think Mitchell is going to be hell-bent on getting him to the mat as early and often as possible and will put him in some tough spots, but ultimately will have to settle for a decision victory.
Prediction: Bryce Mitchell to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Kevin Holland vs. Alex Oliveira
Holland’s fortunes were completely flipped on their head last year, going from a five-fight winning streak in 2020 to two dominant decision losses and a completely bizarre no-contest ruling in 2021.
The decision losses exposed Holland’s ground game deficiencies, while the no-contest was a nightmare unfolding in real time as a clash of heads with Kyle Daukaus flash-KO’d him, only to recover so quickly that the ref didn’t stop the fight when he should have, resulting in the still-dazed Holland being choked unconscious not long afterwards.
That was the final straw for Holland, who has since relocated to the welterweight division and has continued to attempt to shore up his suspect takedown defense and defensive mat work in the six months since then.
In Oliveira he’s facing a gritty veteran who is always up for a scrap, but at 34 is already showing signs of his prior wars having taken a toll on him, winning just two of his last eight fights.
That being said, Oliveira provides a solid challenge for Holland here as he’s capable of mixing things up with both hard-hitting offense on the feet and a willingness to go to the mat too, where he can be dangerous offensively, but at the same time is vulnerable to submissions himself.
Coming down from middleweight, Holland will have a significant size advantage, standing 4″ taller and with a 4.5″ reach advantage, and his long-range striking has always been very sharp and effective, which could make a real impression at 170lbs.
I feel that will give him the edge over an ageing, less durable Oliveira, and even if his ground game hasn’t been patched up fully yet, I don’t see him having the same kind of issues being pinned down he had against far better wrestlers like Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori. So, I’ll take Holland to get back on track here with a second round TKO victory here.
Prediction: Kevin Holland to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet @ Sportsbet
Sergey Spivak vs. Greg Hardy
Former disgraced NFL star Hardy has reached the final fight of his current UFC deal and it’s fair to say that so far things haven’t gone according to plan for him, with just a 4-4 (+1nc) run so far and having suffered a TKO and KO loss in his last two fights.
Now he goes up against Spivak, who is coming off a TKO loss to Tom Aspinall last September, but had been on a three-fight winning streak prior to that.
Hardy has a 2″ height and reach advantage here and to be fair to him, he has clearly worked on his striking fundamentals over time and has a functional boxing game and can work competently behind the jab, while backing that up with big power shots.
Meanwhile, Spivak is a bit awkward and cumbersome on the feet and can look uncomfortable when put under pressure, so he could find himself in trouble if he lets the faster, more athletic Hardy settle into his groove in the striking department.
However, Spivak is the far better grappler of the two and if he does get Hardy to the mat then he should be able to dominate and will have a high chance of locking up a submission.
So, Spivak’s early takedown attempts will be crucial to his chances here, and though there are some concerns I’m still going to take Spivak to stick doggedly to the task and emerge with a second round submission finish.
Prediction: Sergey Spivak to win by submission in Rd2 – Bet @ Sportsbet
UFC 272 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Jalin Turner
Yan Xiaonan vs. Marina Rodriguez
Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu
Mariya Agapova vs. Maryna Moroz
Brian Kelleher vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
Tim Elliott vs. Tagir Ulanbekov
Erick Gonzalez vs. Devonte Smith
Dustin Jacoby vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.