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UFC Fight Night 178: Covington vs. Woodley - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 14 Sep 2020, 17:43 IST
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#2 UFC Welterweight Division: Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price

Can popular veteran Donald Cerrone get back to his winning ways this weekend?
Can popular veteran Donald Cerrone get back to his winning ways this weekend?

Even on such a loaded card, this fight stands out as one that should absolutely guarantee excitement. ‘Cowboy,’ of course, holds the records for the most wins in UFC history, the most finishes in UFC history, and the most post-fight bonus awards in UFC history.

He’s never won a UFC title, but there’s a very real argument to be made that he’s the most exciting fighter in the history of the promotion.

Price meanwhile, has been making his own name as an action hero since arriving in the UFC in 2016. He’s won seven of his 11 UFC fights, taking four post-fight bonuses. And win or lose, he’s never gone the distance once. ‘The Hybrid’ defines a kill-or-be-killed fighter.

So can Price basically usurp Cerrone’s spot as the 170lbs division’s best action fighter? Well, there’s every possibility he can. Not only is ‘Cowboy’ now getting relatively old for a top UFC fighter – he turns 38 next March – but he’s also quietly been on a pretty bad slide as of late.

You have to go back to May 2019 to find his last win – an impressive dissection of Al Iaquinta. Since then, he’s been beaten four times, with three of those opponents – Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and Conor McGregor – all stopping him by TKO.

Sure, it’s fair to say that all three men are amongst the highest-level opponents he possibly could’ve faced in the UFC right now. He did well against Ferguson before suffering a fight-ending eye injury, and realistically he never matched that well against Gaethje or McGregor.

The fact is, though, that he’s taken so much punishment and been in so many wars over the years, there’s every chance he’s genuinely begun to reach the tailend of his career. His most recent fight with Anthony Pettis was telling of this.

There was a genuine argument to be made that Cerrone deserved the nod from the judges in that fight, but it was hard not to feel like the two men simply weren’t close to their best anymore. Like two aging gunslingers facing off, both ‘Cowboy’ and ‘Showtime’ looked markedly slower than they’d done in their primes.

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And that doesn’t bode well for Cerrone’s chances against Price. By anyone’s standards in terms of skills, ‘Cowboy’ is the better fighter here. He’s a cleaner, more technical striker, and is probably the superior grappler too, based on what he’s shown in his fights with the likes of Evan Dunham and Edson Barboza.

However, ‘The Hybrid’ is incredibly tough and has finishing power from basically all angles. Remember his KO of Randy Brown using hammer fists from the bottom? He’s also willing to get into the kind of wild exchanges that have typified Cerrone’s UFC career and refuses to back down from any opponent.

Add in the fact that for the last few years, ‘Cowboy’ has shown a worrying tendency to wilt under heavy striking power – think his fights against McGregor, Gaethje, and Darren Till – and I just can’t see this fight being successful for him.

Price is arguably his heir when it comes to the most exciting man in the UFC, and I think he’ll take that crown this weekend, probably with an early TKO.

The Pick: Price via first-round TKO

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Published 14 Sep 2020, 17:43 IST
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