UFC 296 PREVIEW: Edwards and Covington prepare to battle it out

UFC 296 PREVIEW: Leon Edwards and Colby Covington prepare to battle it out for the UFC welterweight title… but what do the stats say ahead of the thrilling event in Las Vegas?

  • This weekend, Leon Edwards and Colby Covington will battle for the UFC title 
  • Here, Mail Sport analyses the match-up between the two welterweight stars 
  • Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett MUST seize his moment in the UFC 296 limelight after seeing his career stutter – The Hook 

This weekend, scores will finally get settled as Leon Edwards and Colby Covington face-off in a bout for the UFC’s welterweight title. 

It comes after months of back-and-forth between the two stars, who will share the octagon in UFC 296’s main event on Saturday night in Las Vegas. 

The fight will be just Edwards’ second defence of the welterweight title having already beaten former champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 earlier this year. 

Covington had weighed in as the back-up fighter for that bout but the opportunity to face-off with Edwards never materialised – until this weekend! 

So, here, Mail Sport takes a look at the stats behind both fighters ahead of one of the most highly-anticipated UFC cards of the year. 

Leon Edwards will look to defend his UFC welterweight title at UFC 296 on Saturday night

American’s Colby Covington will be looking to upset the British star in Las Vegas

The stats suggest that Edwards has an advantage heading into the thrilling bout 

Welterweight has quickly become one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC and it’s largely due to the impressive performances of Edwards in the last year. 

In August 2022, he claimed became the second British champion ever in the organisation after producing an iconic head-kick against Usman. 

It’s no secret that Edwards was on the cusp of a brutal defeat, after four dominant rounds from Usman, however produced the win after the stunning kick late on. 

It was a crucial victory for Edwards, who’s last defeat in the UFC was against Usman when they first met back in December 2015 – where he lost via unanimous decision. 

In total, Edwards has 16 UFC fights and is on a 12-fight unbeaten streak. He’s 11-0 with one no contest in that stretch. 

Seven of those victories have come via TKO/KO, three via submission and the rest via judges scorecards.

He followed his victory over Usman last year with a dominant display against the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ at UFC 286 in London in March – where he won via majority decision, despite having a point deducted during the bout. 

His impressive performances have helped him become ranked No. 4 in the UFC’s Pound-For-Pound fighter list – with only Islam Makhachev, Jon Jones and Alexander Volkanovski above him. 

Interestingly, Edwards is both taller and boasts a longer reach than his American counterpart – which is likely to play in his advantage on Saturday night. 

Edwards has recorded back-to-back wins over Kamaru Usman in the build-up to the fight

Covington, meanwhile, has won two of his three bouts since 2020 – after defeat to Usman

Covington, in contrast to Edwards, has not stepped foot inside the octagon since March 2022 – when he recorded an emphatic KO victory against Jorge Masvidal. 

It was a crucial victory for Covington, who had suffered two defeats to Usman in his three bouts prior to fighting Masvidal at UFC 272. 

As previously mentioned, Covington weighed in as the alternate for that fight in London and was then declared next in line by UFC chief Dana White. 

The American boasts a 17-3 professional MMA record – with 15 of those fights coming in the UFC. His three defeats have come against Usman twice and Warlley Alves.

While Covington is rarely praised for his technique and finesse, the 35-year-old boasts incredible cardio – which many have tipped to be his secret weapon in the bout. 

His tireless attitude coupled with his immense power makes him a tricky customer for any welterweight candidate – with Edwards the latest to try his luck. 

Stats also show that Covington lands 70 per cent of his strikes to the head of his opponent, as he looks to increase his wins via KO from four.  

The one aspect that will likely play in Edwards’ favour is the lengthy period of time in which Covington has been inactive. 

With just three fights since 2020, the American could certainly find that ‘ring rust’ comes into play when facing off with the welterweight champion. 

Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett is also in action the main card on Saturday night in Sin City

The stats suggest that it’ll be an even match-up between the British star and the American

Elsewhere on the card, British star Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett and Tony Ferguson will face-off in highly-anticipated lightweight bout. 

Paddy ‘The Baddy’ will return to the octagon for the first time since his contentious win over Jared Gordon in December 2022 – where he snuck a victory via unanimous decision. 

His opponent, Ferguson, is known as a veteran in the UFC however has endured a difficult run in recent years and, heading into the bout, has lost six in a row. 

Given Pimblett’s dubious victory last time out and Ferguson’s disastrous losing streak, it’s a difficult bout to call. 

The stats say that Pimblett will likely be the bigger man on the night however Ferguson will boast a much larger reach than his Liverpudlian counterpart. 

Fans can expect a thrilling bout between the lightweight stars, who both have a tendency to display their striking and boxing skills inside the octagon. 

The stats show that both fighters have a tendency to aim for their opponent’s head, as opposed to body shots or leg kicks, suggesting it’ll be a thrilling striking affair.

Ahead of the fight, Mail Sport’s Alex McCarthy and Charlotte Daly have suggested that Pimblett ‘has to make a statement’ during his bout with Ferguson. 

UFC veteran Tony Ferguson is coming into the fight on a six-bout losing streak

Speaking on The Hook, McCarthy said: ‘Heralded as like the next Conor McGregor in many ways, I think it is fair to say his career has kind of stuttered the last couple of fights. 

‘Yeah, he’s got the victories, but they weren’t as emphatic or as impressive as he really needed at this point. Fighting a lightweight legend like Ferguson, on a five or six fight skid or not, this is a real shop window for Pimblett’.

In agreement, Daly said: ‘I think this will be a test for the fact that Ferguson is by far the most experienced and notable fighter that Paddy ‘The Baddy’ has fought. So of course, when there’s experience that comes into play, it gives them an element that perhaps he hasn’t seen in the past. 

‘So I think it will be exciting. I do think that Paddy has to make a statement. And I think he will make a statement’.

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