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5 reasons why Colby Covington beats Leon Edwards

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The next welterweight title fight: Colby Covington vs. Leon Edwards

Colby Covington sat cage-side at UFC 286 as his former rival Kamaru Usman sought to recapture his divisional throne from newly crowned welterweight king Leon Edwards. Instead, 'Rocky' emerged victorious in front of the London faithful to mark his first successful title defense.

Mere moments after being declared the winner, the Jamaican-Englishman was asked by former UFC double champion Daniel Cormier if he was keen on facing Colby Covington in a title fight. The suggestion was quickly shut down by 'Rocky', who cited the All-American's inactivity as making him unworthy of a title shot.

Unfortunately, UFC president Dana White paid no mind to the champion's words. At the post-fight press conference, White announced that 'Chaos' was next in line for a title shot. While Edwards did well to defeat 'The Nigerian Nightmare', he is unlikely to find the same success against Covington.


#5. Colby Covington's wrestling threat

Leon Edwards has made tremendous improvements to his defensive wrestling. His offensive wrestling has gotten significantly better as well, as he became the first UFC fighter to ever take Kamaru Usman down in their prior bout. What many don't realize, however, is that the Nigerian is a former NCAA Division II wrestler.

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Meanwhile, Colby Covington is an NCAA Division I threat. In recent years, 'The Nigerian Nightmare' has focused more on his striking. This has not been the case with 'Chaos', who remains as dedicated a wrestler as ever. He is a fast-paced wrestler who shoots for takedowns more frequently.

Despite Edwards' defensive performance against Usman at UFC 286, he still conceded several takedowns. Even when he stood back up, he exposed his back to do so. Covington is better at mat returns and back-takes than Usman and will likely turn Edwards at an angle back to the mat every time he tries to stand.


#4. Colby Covington's pressure

All fighters have flaws as there is no such thing as a perfect mixed martial artist. Unfortunately, some flaws lead to greater consequences than others. In other cases, certain flaws render fighters stylistically favorable matchups for certain fighters. One of Leon Edwards' worst habits is how easily he gives up space.

Colby Covington has an engine for days πŸ”₯He just kept on coming and coming and was too much to handle for Tyron Woodley πŸ‘ #UFCVegas11 https://t.co/C56L6Ga8pu

He is exceptionally easy to back up to the fence due to his tendency to cede ground to his opponents. His lateral footwork isn't varied enough to make him evasive enough to deal with pressure fighters. He circles to try and shuffle his way back into open space, but he backs up in a straight line too often.

This does not bode well for him against Colby Covington. The former interim champion applies constant pressure against his foes. He has even been able to apply pressure against Kamaru Usman. If 'Rocky' cedes ground to him and allows him to pressure without consequence, he'll be in for a long night.


#3. The cardio difference

Leon Edwards has serviceable cardio whenever he's allowed to fight at a more even pace. If he can either impose his will on his foes or force them to meet him halfway, his gas tank does the job. Whenever he's dragged out of his element and forced to grapple for extended periods, he struggles.

Colby Covington is a cardio machine 😳Absolutely relentless from start to finish...Complete domination πŸ‘Š#UFCNewark https://t.co/FFlscbvtHo

Colby Covington has some of the best cardio in UFC history. He was so tireless that he even managed to slightly overwhelm Kamaru Usman in their past encounters. At UFC 286, 'Rocky' began tiring towards the end of the bout. To his credit, so was 'The Nigerian Nightmare'.

Covington, however, has never tired inside the octagon. Not only does he maintain an extremely high pace, but he also increases his pace in the championship rounds. Edwards cannot afford to tire against him due to the insane pace that 'Chaos' sets.


#2. Colby Covington's volume striking

While he had an entertaining set of bouts with divisional rival Kamaru Usman, no one will ever confuse Colby Covington for a kickboxer. His striking serves a purpose that's secondary to landing knockout blows or even outstriking his foes. His volume-striking is designed to overwhelm his opponents.

He combines pressure and volume to force his opponents into a defensive shell that renders them offensively inert. If all his opponents do is react to an avalanche of punches and kicks, they'll eventually react incorrectly. Furthermore, it overloads their brains with a number of decisions they must make in almost no time.

Aug3.20191 year ago today,Colby Covington set a UFC record for the most strikes thrown in a fight when he defeated Robbie Lawler. https://t.co/v0cPEJzoxz

This creates openings for takedowns, making 'Chaos' an exhausting force to withstand. He neither knocks his opponents out nor secures submissions. Instead, he neuters his foe's offense by drowning them with his volume striking. This will work well against Leon Edwards due to the latter's need for the perfect exchange.

He cedes too much space and doesn't pressure his opponents after landing good blows. Instead, he resets and looks to force a perfect exchange, meaning there's always a lull after he strikes that Covington can take advantage of.


#1. Colby Covington's toughness

If Leon Edwards can't outpoint Colby Covington or match his pace, his only hope of winning a bout between the two is via knockout. While he recently defeated Kamaru Usman with a thunderous head kick in Salt Lake City, 'Rocky' is not a knockout artist by any means.

He is a highly skilled striker with serviceable punching power, but his tendency to cede space and force the perfect exchange means finishes are hard to come by. This will be especially true against 'Chaos', whose chin is tremendous. Not only is his ability to absorb damage commendable, Covington's recovery is even better.

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The All-American has been dropped in several fights. Kamaru Usman is an incredibly powerful fighter who has flattened many of his recent foes, but he couldn't KO 'Chaos'. The same is true for Jorge Masvidal, who knocked him down but couldn't finish him.

Covington always recovers from being rocked or dropped by his foes, and he does so with near-supernatural quickness. This renders a KO loss against 'Rocky' an unlikely event.

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Edited by Anurag Mitra
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