The Ultimate Fighting Championship wraps up its 2019 pay-per-view slate with a card in Las Vegas featuring three title bouts. In the main event, the controversial Colby Covington (15-1) challenges champion Kamaru Usman (15-1) for the UFC welterweight title. Max Holloway (21-4) looks to defend his UFC featherweight title for the fourth time when he meets Australia’s Alexander Volkanovski (20-1). Amanda Nunes (18-4) also looks to further her claim as the greatest women’s fighter of all time when she defends her bantamweight title against Germaine de Randamie (9-3). We’ll have coverage of all the evening’s bouts here.
UFC welterweight title: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
In some ways Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington are very similar fighters. They have identical records, rely on their wrestling and have both taken time to achieve their respect as competitors. As personalities, they’re very different. Covington has built his fame by creating a villain persona and capitalizing on a polarized political climate while Usman has a no nonsense personality and very much dislikes Covington’s shtick.
Round 1. Usman slips throwing a kick but nothing comes of it. Usman lands a nice jab. Covington connects with a few low kicks. Usman lands a hard right hand. Usman lands another shortly thereafter. Covington responds with a series of strikes including a nice left hand. Covington nails Usman with two hard punches. He follows with additional hard punches and a knee that appear to have Usman in a little trouble. Covington follows with another crisp left hand. 10-9 Covington.
Round 2. Covington connects with a few punches at the start. They trade jabs. Usman lands some strong punches and then Covington answers back by getting the better of Usman with some punches. Neither man has been able to gain a sustained advantage in the striking. Covington scores with a right hook but then Usman answers with a right hook of his own. 10-9 Usman.
Round 3. The pace slows in the third relative to the frenetic pace of the first and second rounds. Usman lands a hard right hand to the head and then a little while later lands one to the body. Usman knocks Covington back with a punch but Covington responds with a head kick and then throws a couple more head kicks. Usman gets poked in the eye, causing a stop in the action. Usman recovers. 10-9 Usman.
Round 4. Between rounds, Covington told his corner that he thought his jaw was broken. Covington comes out swinging wildly and Usman fires back. Covington lands a big right hand up the middle. Usman retaliates with a strong right of his own. Covington connects with a hard uppercut but Usman just keeps coming. Covington lands another uppercut. Usman comes back with a few straight punches. 10-9 Covington.
Round 5. Usman lands a glancing head kick early in the round. Covington lands a multi punch combination of his own. Covington adds another hook. Covington lands another combination. Usman sends Covington back with a straight right hand. He pursues and connects with another big punch. Covington is backing away. Usman drops him with a right hand. Covington gets up and Usman drops him again. Usman lands punches on the ground and it is stopped.
Winner: Kamaru Usman, TKO, round 5.
That was a tremendous fight. It went back and forth with both men showing toughness and resiliency. Covington might have been on the verge of pulling it out by decision when Usman took over in the fifth and left it out of the judges’ hands. It has to be a satisfying win for Usman after all that was said heading into the fight.
UFC featherweight title: Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Max Holloway has built his resume as one of the best featherweights in the sport’s history with wins over the likes of Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega. Featherweight is a difficult division and he has another challenge in front of him in 20-1 Alexander Volkanovski. Volkanovski is unbeaten in the UFC and he is looking to become the second Australian UFC champion.
Round 1. Volkvanovski opens with a few low kicks. He also connects with a two punch combination. Volkanovski follows with a couple more combinations. He’s doing well early. Holloway lands a strong low kick of his own. Volkanovski looks for a takedown in the final minute. Holloway defends well. 10-9 Volkanovski.
Round 2. Volkanovski goes back to work with those leg kicks. He adds a straight right hand as Holloway is coming in. Holloway is having trouble getting the right range against Volkanovski, who has a stocky build but long arms. Holloway switches stances to protect what is usually his lead leg. Holloway lands a nice late combination. 10-9 Volkanovski.
Round 3. Volkanovski connects with a straight right hand early. He lands a left hook a little bit later. Holloway is not doing well in a southpaw stance designed to protect his right leg. Volkanovski is consistently landing the better punches. Holloway usually wears down his opponents but he’s showing no signs of having that effect here. Holloway catches Volkanovski with a nice combination in the final 30 seconds. 10-9 Volkanovski.
Round 4. Volkanovski punishes Holloway’s lead leg again to start the round and then touches up Holloway with some punches. Volkanovski attempts a takedown but Holloway prevents that. Holloway begins to press more late in the round, walking Volkanovski down more aggressively. In a major exchange in the final minute of the round, both men land telling blows. 10-9 Volkanovski. Holloway is going to need a finish.
Round 5. Holloway attacks the body with punches a few times in the early going. Volkanovski has success with a couple of combinations. Holloway briefly grabs Volkanovski’s head but he doesn’t push for a guillotine attempt. Holloway does seem to have a little more gas this round. Volkanovski lands a strong right hand and Holloway indicates he’s still right there. Volkanovski peppers Holloway with a couple jabs. Holloway answers with an uppercut and a hook. 10-9 Holloway, 49-46 Volkanovski.
Winner: Alexander Volkanovski, unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45).
The great respect Max Holloway commands likely played a role in the scores being that close. Volkanovski clearly won that fight, utilizing strong leg kicks and crisp boxing to get the better of a quality champion. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against some of the various styles possessed by other fighters in the division.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title: Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie
Amanda Nunes has been on a remarkable roll, winning 9 straight with 7 finishes against the likes of Ronda Rousey, Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Valentina Shevchenko, Holly Holm and Miesha Tate. Germaine de Randamie is a dangerous striker in her own right. Nunes defeated de Randamie before by getting her to the ground and it will be interesting to see how Nunes approaches the rematch.
Round 1. The fighters exchange leg kicks. Nunes knocks de Randamie back with an overhand right. Nunes gets a takedown a little after a minute into the fight. Nunes immediately postures up to throw big punches but de Randamie uses the opportunity to stand back up. Nunes grabs a guillotine and pulls de Randamie down looking for the finish but de Randamie pops out and returns to her feet. Nunes gets another takedown and starts throwing big punches. Nunes looks for an Americana but gives it up. Nunes is throwing from high on the ground, but it does allow de Randamie to respond with upkicks. De Randamie is just covering up as Nunes throws punches. It doesn’t look like many of those punches are getting through but the fight appears close to being stopped just because de Randamie isn’t responding. Nunes grabs an arm triangle choke but de Randamie is able to hold on. 10-8 Nunes.
Round 2. De Randamie throws a head kick to start and then lands a few jabs. De Randamie connects with a few solid power punches. Nunes then switches levels and gets a takedown a minute and a half in. There isn’t a lot of action there and the referee stands it up quickly. De Randamie lands a question mark kick and a flying knee. De Randamie follows with some knees to the head in the clinch. Nunes is in trouble. Nunes recovers in the clinch but de Randamie is in control. Nunes gets a takedown with a minute left. She lands a few punches at the close. 10-9 de Randamie.
Round 3. Nunes gets a takedown early. De Randamie just holds on while Nunes lands some punches from the top. Nunes briefly looks to set up an arm triangle but she gives up. As Nunes is posturing up for a punch, she gets caught with a big upkick but de Randamie isn’t able to capitalize. Nunes lands some elbows before de Randamie works her way back up. 10-9 Nunes.
Round 4. Nunes gets a quick takedown to start the round again. De Randamie grabs a triangle from the bottom and uses it to take top position. The fighters return to their feet but Nunes then takes de Randamie back down. Nunes lands some punches and elbows from the top to close the round. 10-9 Nunes.
Round 5. Nunes again gets a takedown to start the round. Nunes lands some punches and elbows from the top in what is an uneventful round. The crowd boos as time passes, hoping for more action. Nunes gets side control at the end. 10-8 Nunes, 49-44 Nunes.
Winner: Amanda Nunes, unanimous decision (49-44, 49-46, 49-45).
That was a compelling fight. Nunes showed more vulnerability than she has in quite some time and had to rely on her ground game to score the win. If De Randamie’s takedown defense had held up better, she might well have been able to capture the gold. Unfortunately for future Nunes opponents, de Randamie has a unique skill set and Nunes approaches most opponents differently.
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes
Arguably the greatest featherweight fighter of all time, Jose Aldo is now making a rough cut to 135 pounds to try to thrive at a new weight class. This move has been widely questioned since Aldo had difficulty cutting to 145 pounds and there has been concern about how he has looked cutting to bantamweight. Marlon Moraes is one of the best bantamweight fighters and like Aldo is a dynamic striker with knockout power. After a title fight loss to Henry Cejudo, he looks to rebound and move back into position to challenge for the title.
Round 1. Moraes lands a head kick right at the start that hurts Aldo. Moraes lands another and then throws a third that Aldo blocks. Moraes lands a two punch combination. Aldo charges in with a couple wild punches but he gets countered in the process. Aldo is pursuing Moraes but he isn’t throwing much while he is doing so. Aldo connects with a solid right hand and he opens up. Moraes responds with some punches of his own but Aldo catches him with a counter. Moraes immediately goes for a takedown and he gets it at the end of the round. 10-9 Moraes.
Round 2. Aldo goes back to walking Moraes down, but Moraes again is landing the best punches in the early stages of the second round. Aldo connects with a big combination at the midpoint of the round but Moraes is able to quickly answer back with some hard punches of his own. Aldo follows with a few strong jabs. Aldo lands an uppercut. Aldo is finally letting his hands go. 10-9 Aldo.
Round 3. Aldo continues to pursue Moraes. Moraes is landing counters himself but Aldo has been steadily increasing his volume over the course of the fight. The crowd boos some due to a perceived lack of action. Moraes connects with a strong right hand and then a nice leg kick. Aldo blocks a takedown attempt but Moraes answers with a few punches in response. Very close round. 10-9 Moraes, 29-28 Moraes.
Winner: Marlon Moraes, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
The crowd boos the decision, understandable given Aldo was moving forward all fight and fans tend to favor the fighter that seems to be pressing the action. The first round was clearly Moraes’ based on rocking Aldo, the second round was clearly Aldo’s, and that meant it came down to the third which was very close.
Petr Yan vs. Urijah Faber
The pay-per-view portion of UFC 245 begins with the popular “California Kid” Urijah Faber. Faber is an important figure in the history of the sport as he was one of the key figures in popularizing the lighter weight classes. Now 40, he came out of retirement earlier this year with a win over Ricky Simon. Now he gets a dangerous foe in 26 year old Petr Yan. The 13-1 Russian is a brutal striker and will be a formidable challenge for Faber.
Round 1. Yan cautiously presses forward, looking to get a comfortable range. Yan lands a nice head kick followed by two punches. Faber catches a kick and tries to clinch but Yan won’t let him do so. Faber tries again and this time lands a punch as he breaks away. Yan lands a hard right hand from close range. Faber than answers back with a punch of his own. They clinch and this time Yan punches Faber on the break. 10-9 Yan.
Round 2. Faber catches Yan with a quality left hook early in the round. Yan lands a hook as they are moving out of a clinch again. Much of the offense in the fight is coming as the fighters are moving into or out of a clinch. Yan nails Faber with a brutal combination concluding with a straight right hand that bloodies Faber’s face and knocks him to the ground. Yan goes to the ground looking to finish but Faber survives. Faber gets back up but he gets knocked back down with another massive punch, this time a straight left. Yan again looks to finish. Faber gets up but Yan takes him back down. Faber has an enormous hematoma under the eye but a doctor allowed him to continue. Faber gets up and immediately tries to go back to work with his boxing. Yan scores another takedown late. 10-8 Yan.
Round 3. Yan drops Faber again with a front kick and the fight is mercifully called off.
Winner: Petr Yan, TKO, round 3.
Faber wanted to test himself against top competition and he got his wish. Fighting doesn’t tend to be friendly to legends as they reach their late 30s and early 40s.
Geoff Neal vs. Mike Perry
Geoff Neal made it into the UFC off a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series and since then he is 4-0 in the UFC against generally high end competition. He meets the colorful and entertaining Mike Perry, who has struggled in recent fights after a series of knockouts in his early UFC career.
Round 1. Neal staggers Perry with a head kick. Perry backs up and Neal immediately follows with a barrage of straight punches. Perry goes down and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Geoff Neal, TKO, round 1.
Geoff Neal is making a name for himself in quick order and if he keeps winning in the same way, it isn’t going to be long before he’s matched regularly with the best in the division. Mike Perry has been remarkably durable over the course of his career in some very offensive fights but Neal put him away quickly.
Ketlen Vieira vs. Irena Aldana
At 10-0, Ketlen Vieira is one of the top contenders for the UFC women’s bantamweight title. She is fighting for the first time since March 2018 due to injury. Irene Aldana is one of the top Mexican fighters and she enters this bout having won four of her last five.
Round 1. Vieira matches in throwing big punches. She eats a heavy counter from Aldana in the process. Vieira appears to stun Aldana a little with a straight punch and backs Aldana up. Aldana drops Vieira was a massive left hook in the middle of an exchange. She then knocks Vieira out with two punches on the ground.
Winner: Irene Aldana, KO, round 1.
That was a pivotal win for Aldana. She beat a highly regarded opponent in spectacular fashion and in the process is likely to be moved to the front of the line for a shot at the title.
Omari Akhmedov vs. Ian Heinisch
Akhmedov is part of the proud contingent of Dagestani MMA fighters and he is 4-0-1 in his last five UFC fights. Heinisch has a solid 13-2 MMA record and was a regional champion before making it to the UFC.
Round 1. After the fighters trade low kicks, Akhmedov opens up with some big looping punches up against the cage. Heinisch is able to withstand and Akhmedov slows down his pace. Akhmedov is dictating the fight early, throwing combinations to keep Heinisch from advancing or throwing much. Akhmedov slams Heinisch down with a takedown four minutes into the round and ends up in Heinisch’s half guard. Heinisch works back to his feet. 10-9 Akhmedov.
Round 2. Akhmedov lands some solid punches when Heinisch moves in. Heinisch connects with a few stiff kicks to the leg and body. Akhmedov gets a takedown briefly but Heinisch pretty much immediately gets back up. Heinisch looks for a takedown in the final minute but time runs out. 10-9 Akhmedov.
Round 3. Heinisch starts out with a few low kicks. Akhmedov has increasingly become reliant on his boxing. Akhmedov lands a solid punch but Heinisch blocks the takedown attempt from Akhmedov that follows and they clinch against the cage. Heinisch lands a couple of punches and takes Akhmedov down in the final minute. Heinisch pours on a series of punches as Akhmedov works to his feet. Heinisch walks Akhmedov down but eats a stiff jab in the process. 10-9 Heinisch, 29-28 Akhmedov.
Winner: Omari Akhmedov, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Omari Akhmedov keeps winning, and keeps not doing a lot to inspire fans to want to see his next fight in the process.
Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders
This is a battle of true veterans as Brown has fought 24 times in the UFC since debuting in 2008 while Saunders first fought in the UFC in 2007 and has competed 18 times in the Octagon. Both like to strike, with Saunders’ vulnerability at times his chin and Brown’s vulnerability at times his submission defense, which has come a long way over the years.
Round 1. Brown paws at Saunders with a left hand early. Brown uses a trip and Saunders kind of pulls guard at the same time. Saunders locks in a triangle on the ground but Brown is able to resist the choke. Saunders continues to hold the triangle and looks to set up a submission. He tries for an armbar but doesn’t come close. Brown is eventually out and throws a few punches at the close. 10-9 Saunders.
Round 2. Brown lands a high kick and then an elbow. Saunders clinches and pulls guard. There isn’t a lot of action there, with Brown landing punches from time to time. They are stood up, but Brown takes Saunders back down. On the ground, Brown lands a big elbow that rocks Saunders. Brown follows with some additional hard punches and the referee steps in.
Winner: Matt Brown, TKO, round 2.
That was a prototypical Matt Brown performance. He worked his way through a little bit of danger and when he connected with his power, the fight was quickly over.
Chase Hooper vs. Daniel Teymur
Chase Hooper is just 20 years old and he gets to fight in the UFC with an unbeaten 8-0-1 record. Daniel Teymur is part of a fighting family and has an exciting style to watch. He is 1-3 thus far in the UFC.
Round 1. Teymur grabs a guillotine choke at the start of the fight and Hooper fights frantically to get out of it. He eventually does. Teymur lands a big right hand and Hooper quickly clinches. Hooper looks to take Teymur’s back from the standing position. Hooper gets the back and lands some punches from there while looking to set up a rear naked choke. Hooper gets the arm under the chin but somehow Teymur is able to survive the choke. Hooper gets mount and lands some big punches. Hooper then switches to a mounted triangle. Hooper lands punch after punch there until the fight is stopped.
Winner: Chase Hooper, TKO, round 1.
Hooper doesn’t have the most intimidating look but but he’s a dangerous fighter. He weathered a little trouble early and dominated Teymur from there. That was Hooper’s first UFC win but it seems unlikely to be his last.
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
Moreno and Kara-France both competed on the same season of the Ultimate Fighter for a UFC flyweight title shot and they now face off trying to establish position in an uncertain flyweight division. Moreno has done well in the UFC, accumulating a 4-2-1 record. Kara-France is 3-0 in the UFC thus far, all by decision.
Round 1. The pace is fast out of the gate, with both men concentrating principally on their boxing and showcasing fast hands. Both men are landing good shots. Kara-France lands the biggest early shot, a right punch around the midpoint of the round. Kara-France connects again moments later. Moreno is visibly frustrated at the close of the round. 10-9 Kara-France.
Round 2. The second round begins the same way the first was going. One notable change over the course of the fight is that both fighters are mixing in more kicks. Moreno is particularly aggressive in the second, opening up with quick multi-shot combinations. His aggression has forced Kara-France to be more defensive. Kara-France is bleeding noticeably and has slowed down. 10-9 Moreno.
Round 3. Moreno is moving with real confidence as the fight progresses. Like in the previous Eye-Araujo bout, the fight momentum appears to have swung. Moreno is even taunting some between throwing. Moreno connects with a nice combination with a minute left in the round. 10-9 Moreno, 29-28 Moreno.
Winner: Brandon Moreno, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
That was a high quality win for Moreno, who showed great heart, cardio and offensive technique against a tough opponent. Moreno is known for being an exciting fighter and he lived up to his reputation.
Jessica Eye vs. Viviane Araujo
Jessica Eye earned herself a shot at the UFC women’s flyweight title with three straight wins but that title shot went awry when Valentina Shevchenko knocked out Eye with a brutal head kick. Now, Eye returns to action for the first time since that critical setback. She missed weight for the fight by five pounds. Viviane Araujo has an impressive 8-1 MMA record and has won both of her UFC fights thus far.
Round 1. Araujo lands an early right hand. Both fighters seem content to strike. Araujo is landing a little bit better in the early going. Eye connects with a solid right hand and Araujo responds by taking Eye down. Araujo leaves Eye an opening and Eye returns to her feet. On the feet, Eye comes out swinging and also lands a few low kicks late. Close round. 10-9 Araujo.
Round 2. Eye starts off with a nice right hand. Eye adds some leg kicks as well and as Eye gets more comfortable with her striking, Araujo is throwing less. Eye continues to attack the lead leg with kicks. Araujo gets an emphatic takedown with a minute and a half left in the round. Eye is able to get up in quick order. Eye then goes back to work with her striking, mixing low kicks and straight punches. 10-9 Eye.
Round 3. Araujo is bouncing around on her feet a lot, perhaps to try to signal the leg kicks haven’t affected her. Araujo is also throwing more early in the third than she was in the second. Eye is largely attacking the same way, although she is throwing more body punches in the third. Another competitive round. 10-9 Eye, 29-28 Eye.
Winner: Jessica Eye, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Eye made some adjustments after the first round and pulled away late, turning the bout into her sort of fight.
Punahele Soriano vs. Oskar Piechota
UFC 245 kicks off with what oddsmakers installed as the closest fight of the evening. Hawaiian competitor Punahele Soriano makes his UFC debut undefeated at 6-0 after advancing from Dana White’ Contender Series. The Polish star Oskar Piechota looks to rebound from consecutive submission losses that were the first two of his career.
Round 1. In an early clinch, Soriano lands a massive left hook that drops Piechota to the canvas. Soriano follows with additional punches on the ground looking to finish the fight but remarkably, Piechota is able to recover. Piechota attempts a kimura and a guillotine on the ground and returns to his feet, where Soriano lands a couple more heavy punches. Soriano then lands a huge left hand that drops Piechota hard again and the fight is called off.
Winner: Punahele Soriano, KO, round 1.
That went about as well for Soriano as possible. He exhibited the sort of finishing power that will make him a fan favorite in short order. Future opponents are going to have to game plan to avoid that heavy left hand of Soriano’s.