In an odd way, the UFC’s approach to promoting Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley was not to promote the pair. At Thursday’s UFC Vegas 11 press conference, the main event pair were nowhere to be found. Media appearances were scarce, and perhaps with good reason: Woodley hails from Ferguson, MO, a hotbed for racial tensions in America. Covington is an ardent Donald Trump supporter, who has turned the red MAGA hat into part of his heel-like gimmick.
But take all of that away, and you had a former champ starting to look a little long in the tooth facing off against a current contender hoping to work his way back to a second title shot. Which made the UFC Vegas 11 main event as much about motivation and heart as it was about skill and technique.
Woodley surprisingly started off the first being the one pressuring Covington. After a few legs kicks from Woodley, Covington hit the takedown. He spent little time on top though before Woodley stood and separated. After that exchange the dynamic of the pressure changed dramatically with Covington leading the dance. Covington landed a big right and spent some time pressing Woodley to the fence in the clinch, but that was the extent of the action in the first.
Woodley seemed to be making a concerted effort be on the front foot to start the second. He landed flush once or twice before Covington started his heavy pressure against the cage again. Covington shot a takedown which was stuffed badly and led to a single leg for Woodley and a front head lock. Apart from a weakly attempted guillotine, there was little doing for Woodley in the exchange. Each landed a decent shot to end the round with Covington hitting a flying knee and Woodley hitting a superman punch.
Covington had no interest in letting Woodley lead early on, as he pressured to start the third. That ended quickly though as Woodley was forced to recover from an eye poke. The physician was brought in and Woodley took his time, but eventually they started back up. Upon the restart, each seemed to have a bit more urgency while looking to land strikes. Covington went back to his old faithful of holding Woodley against the cage, but that didn’t lead anywhere. A few minutes of trading knees to the thigh were all that we saw as they headed to the championship rounds.
The fourth started with a head kick attempt from Colby, followed by two straight body kicks from Woodley. Covington looked for a takedown but was thwarted initially by a ten-finger guillotine. After breaking away, he got back in on the takedown and finished it. He spent the rest of that round on top with some short shots to take the fourth round in fairly one-sided fashion.
Although Duke Roufus implored Woodley to empty the tank for the finish, he looked tentative to kick off the fifth. Covington shot a takedown and Woodley went for a guillotine, but after working it for a short time, Woodley yelled out in pain. The injury appeared to be to his ribs, and the fight was stopped.
"I WANT MY BELT BACK!" 🏆@ColbyCovMMA is on the hunt for gold.
[ *NSFW* ] pic.twitter.com/Zbsy4PHSnN
— UFC (@ufc) September 20, 2020
Thanks to the stoppage, Covington picked up the TKO finish. In usual Covington fashion, he cut a promo in support of Donald Trump, and dedicated the fight to America’s first responders.
Official Result: Colby Covington def. Tyron Woodley by TKO (Rib Injury), Round 5, 1:19