UFC 272 Predictions: Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal staff picks, preview, odds 1

Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will go head-to-head in a welterweight matchup at UFC 272 this weekend.

Featured as the main event of this Saturday night’s fight card, both fighters will enter the Octagon after recent defeats to current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. For Covington and Masvidal, it’s a chance to get back to winning ways and solidify their spot as one of the top contenders in the division.

Fight fans can watch Covington vs. Masvidal and every UFC 272 PPV main card fight live this Saturday night by ordering the official live stream from the ESPN+ website.

Read on for the latest Covington vs. Masvidal betting odds and our full staff predictions and picks for the UFC 272 main event.

Betting Odds

Covington’s -335 odds mean that he has an implied probability to win of 75% in this main event matchup.

  • Covington: -335
  • Masvidal: +260

Staff Predictions

Braeden Arbour

Masvidal and Covington aside from all of the drama surrounding their past as training partners and friends, provide one of the most intriguing matchups the UFC could present to us. Not only are they familiar with one another, but the two demonstrate echoes of their former days training together, by borrowing aspects from one another’s games. They may share some techniques and tactics but ultimately the goals behind using them shape them as fighters and highlight the differences.

First off, as most people agree, Masvidal’s most dangerous position in this fight is on the feet and Covington on the mat. Striking, Masvidal has far more experience and a more polished style, with overall more tools, but he still shines mostly in boxing range, utilizing kicks in space to open up the boxing range or on the end to influence where his opponents move and then eventually getting into boxing range. Covington likewise, utilizes kicks primarily as a tool involving range, mostly using the body kick from either side to pin his opponent to the fence before shooting. Often you will see Covington advancing, and kicking to draw both of his opponent’s arms into the block so that he can beat the distance and stick his opponent between his shot and the cage, before drawing his legs out from beneath him. He also kicks to maintain a level of pressure because consistency is Covington’s best friend.

Especially because Masvidal primarily stands orthodox and Covington southpaw, the body kicks will be open on one another, however expect Masvidal with his edge in diversity of strikes to mix it up to the head and legs more. He will have to be wary of going to the body and thigh as Covington can catch the kick and look for the takedown, but on the other hand, Masvidal often lands when he can catch kicks as well.

For the most part, Masvidal is a very calculated and cold striker. He is sharp and utilizes pinpoint accurate straights, hooks and uppercuts to pick apart his opponent in exchanges. His upper body movement is superb as he can shift in and out like a viper in order to stay safe and land clean. However, those techniques not often utilized by the cleaner strikers, such as big overhangs and wide swinging hooks because of the high risk high reward nature, are also used by Masvidal because he sets them up in a way that minimizes that risk. One of the most effective ways he does this is by throwing them off of catching the kick and throwing the leg in and to the side, making it so his opponents cannot lean away from big shots, and exploding forward while they are off balance. Although catching kicks will be a big threat on Masvidal due to the wrestling aspect, Covington likewise will have to be wary about kicking to the body without enough setup.

Inside boxing range, just as his kicks are used, Covington’s primary target is to close range, suffocate and eventually hit the mat. He hasn’t shown a large ability to change the course of the fight with one big punch, but cumulatively he continues to wear on you until you break. Even something like a flying knee is usually used to jump a large distance into the clinch, whereas when Masvidal throws it it’s to connect and finish the fight. Covington breaks down his opponents, Masvidal sets up big moments and they utilize some of the same tools in their different goals respectively.

If the fight gets to the ground it will be by Covingtons volition. There’s no question that he is the better wrestler, and what makes him largely a problem is that he puts his opponents into positions where they can’t amass much of a threat themselves. Often Covington starts on the fence, tries to circle around with the body lock and drag out the hips from his opponent’s side. This forces his opponent to either give up the back and stay standing or allow themselves to turn into Covington and end up on the floor. He does this likewise on the mat as his opponent looks to get up. Utilizing a grip on the opposite arm is key, and while doing so, digging his head under the chin makes it almost impossible to pose any offense. Masvidal is an absolute master at finding opportunities for short elbows in the clinch, especially when he can get the Thai plum and he doesn’t need much space, but if Covington wins the battle for head position this all becomes mute.

The fight will start on the feet, probably a battle of kicks at range. Masvidal stands at both kickboxing and boxing range all night and probably has the most success because his ability to set things up is better. The longer Colby entertains this, the better chance Masvidal successfully plants a trap, by creating a false opening or picking up on a habit. However, if Covington can get Masvidal to the cage, all the pressure is on Masvidal to then create space to work because Covington’s relentlessness whether they be clinching or wrestling on the mat is suffocating. Ultimately I think that Covington can bully his way in and drag Masvidal into a frustrating wrestling-heavy fight where he does his best work, and keeps Masvidal on the defensive enough to negate Masvidal’s biggest opportunities.

Prediction: Colby Covington to win via decision

Michael Pounders

Covington does one thing better than all other welterweights in the UFC, even better than Usman who, in 2021, beat Covington for the second time. That one thing is cardio. Colby’s cardio is truly a weapon, whether striking, wrestling, or grappling, Covington is able to continue moving forward and pressuring his opponent every minute of every round. When striking, he will often punch while moving forward, throwing a jab and feints to get a reaction out of his opponent. Then when an opening presents itself, throw a quick combination and exit the pocket. After a few minutes of this peppering and point fighting style, Covington often ramps up the power shots or looks to land a shot. His power shots aren’t as powerful as others in the division but he can pack a punch when he plants his feet. “Chaos’” speciality though, other than cardio, is his wrestling. Covington was a D1 wrestler before transitioning to MMA and that high-level wrestling background is evident in the cage. He averages 4 takedowns per fight at a 46% clip; and, just like the rest of his game, once he gets the fight to the mat, he keeps the pressure on. Often choosing position over submission, Colby will ride out top control for an entire round. His biggest gap, and the reason he’s lost to Usman twice, is Covington can get touched on the feet and often is behind in dealing out damage. Still, he is an elite welterweight with unmatched cardio.

Masvidal is a popular but polarizing fighter. Many people love his story, starting off as a poor kid street fighting to parlay his skills into a top ranked UFC welterweight with a sizable bank account and brand. Still, some doubt how skilled he really is in MMA. Masvidal’s striking is undeniably impressive. He can switch stances, land power shots from either hand, and keep a high guard that makes him hard to hit cleanly in return. He will often stand directly in front of his opponent, with a wide boxing base, and look to trade blows. Often being the faster and more powerful striker, this violent strategy has proven successful. However, his lack of footwork, head movement, and willingness to fight somewhere other than the pocket has caused him problems. Moreover, Masvidal is a solid wrestler but has relied more on strength than technique to build his 70% takedown defense. Said simply, Masvidal is talented but has a ceiling, especially at 37.

Masvidal is beloved by many in the MMA community but I feel his skill is slightly overblown. His natural talent, highlight reel ability, and larger-than-life personality make him a UFC superstar. However, when he’s faced true top 5 welterweight talent, he’s been exposed and lost. Covington is undoubtedly the second or third best welterweight in the UFC. I see him pushing his patented pace, overwhelming Masvidal with strikes, and eventually taking him down, a 25-minute grueling war but a dominating performance for “Chaos.”

Prediction: Covington by Decision

Joe Pounders

The odds suggest Covington has a 78% chance of winning; but for me, I believe the percentage chance of winning is far closer to 90-95%. Expanding beyond this perhaps hyperbolic belief, when discussing the top 15 pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, I have no qualms whatsoever in having Covington firmly in the rankings. The rationale behind these statements boils down to the elite attributes he has as a fighter. On the feet, Covington throws in quick boxing combinations that are far more focused on landing cleanly contrary to all-out power. Moreover, the heavy combination of strikes is correlated to him weaponizing his elite cardio, given his non-stop pressure is used to negate the gas tank of his opponent. Pressuring his opponent and making them fight on their back foot allows him to seamlessly transition to his bread and butter attribute as a fighter, his wrestling – in his collegiate days, he wrestled at powerhouse Iowa before transferring to Oregon State where he was a two-time Pac-10 Conference champion. The well-rounded arsenal Covington has at his disposal has led him to have success against just about every opponent baring the champ, Kamaru Usman. Even though he faltered against Usman in both bouts, he has a total of 50 minutes logged against one of the best fighters in the UFC. This experience should afford him confidence and lessons learned that he can employ against other welterweight fighters, beginning with his former training partner, Jorge Masvidal.

Coined as “Street Jesus” by Covington, Masvidal is entirely unfamiliar with choosing peace over violence. Whether it be a quick flying knee to shut the lights out on his opponent in the octagon or throwing a “three-piece and a biscuit” against current top 5 ranked, Leon Edwards, backstage at a UFC event, Masvidal enjoys channeling his former street-fighting mentor, Kimbo Slice, when needed. From an analytical perspective, Masvidal is an experienced UFC fighter with crisp and powerful striking – nearly half of his 35 wins have come via TKO/KO. When in rhythm, Masvidal uses his boxing style to land to the head and body. The output of over 4 strikes landed per minute while absorbing a full strike less showcases him understanding how to get the better of the exchanges when on the feet. Often, the fight stays standing as Masvidal has an impressive 75% takedown defense; and, Usman, an elite wrestler, stated the surprising difficulty he had with taking Masvidal down to the mat. This combination of elite boxing with strong takedown defense lends itself well to fighting Covington, as Covington will put himself in the pocket given his pressure style, and once there, Masvidal has the hands and experience to find success.

Masvidal will likely keep the fight close in the early stages of the bout, given he has fast hands and the ability to combat the takedown. As the fight goes on, the overwhelming pressure and pace Covington employs will prove effective against Masvidal. Notice, the statement of effectiveness stemming from the pressure-attack, is not solely divulged to success in taking Masvidal to the mat, as I believe Covington will have the better striking over the scheduled 25-minute affair. Expanding this belief, whether the fight is on the feet, against the cage, or on the mat, I fully anticipate Covington having greater success when compared to Masvidal. Given Covington is a historical decision fighter, and giving credence to the toughness and experience in Masvidal, I forecast Covington winning a unanimous decision, likely 50-45 on all scorecards.

Bet: Covington by Decision

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