Edwards vs Covington UFC 296 Pick: Fight Prediction for Dec 16 Showdown
UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Picks
When: Saturday, December 16, 2023
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 296: is headlined by one of the biggest fights of the year, as UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards takes on well-known top contender and former interim champion Colby Covington in the main event. Edwards is coming off a pair of wins over Kamaru Usman, taking over the 170-pound class. But he still needs to topple another stalwart of the weight class in Covington, who is having his first fight since beating Jorge Masvidal in March of ’22. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down!
Leon Edwards, 21-3 (7 KOs, 3 Submissions), (-125) vs. Colby Covington, 17-3 (4 KOs, 4 Submissions), (+106)
Leon Edwards defends his UFC Welterweight Championship against Colby Covington on December 16 in Las Vegas. Edwards last fought in March, taking a rematch over Kamaru Usman and consolidating his laurels as the top dog in the division. Edwards having beaten the same man twice who twice beat Covington is food for thought in Edwards’ favor, as is the fact that he has fought a year more recently than the challenger, who comes off a nearly two-year sabbatical heading into the biggest fight of his career.
With Covington already 35, the inactivity and what precipitated it might be a cause for some concern. And no one but Covington could attest to whatever damage Masvidal inflicted in a street fight that followed their March 2022 fight, where Covington was reportedly damaged from a sucker punch. His having not fought since then is a cause for some concern, perhaps, though as a top contender waiting on the sidelines for a shot, he has the right to wait it out until he gets the call. It’s just that heading into what, for all intents and purposes, looks like a close and rugged five-round fight, the notion of a fighter maybe being damaged goods or even just being compromised from inactivity is cause for pause, perhaps.
Three years younger at 32, Edwards is on quite a run, having not tasted defeat since 2015 when he lost to Usman. Beating him twice since, while also beating everyone else in his path, it’s hard to say much negative about his last decade in the sport. You could say that he was more fortunate than Covington in fighting an older version of Usman, whose body had started to betray him. You could question some of the guys he has fought. But when looking at the total picture and his rise to the top, being critical might fall under the category of nit-picking.
It’s still not an easy night, and it never will be with Covington. Edwards and Covington are both fighters where fewer than half of their wins are by stoppage. I think the odds still fairly represent what this fight looks like—a grinding five-rounder between two men who know what it takes to toil for the 25-minute distance. Edwards certainly knows, having been able to win late in fights with the belt on the line, but Covington has fought full 25-minute fights in each of his last six bouts, so this is even more right up his alley—somewhat unusual for a challenger.
In this context, Covington is a massive handful. One of the more gifted fighters in the game in terms of stamina, the level of fitness needed to contain his energy is immense. And as pointed out, Edwards isn’t the greatest finisher, his leg-kick KO over Usman notwithstanding. That means he’s going to likely need to deal with Covington for the full 25. And unless he creates some damage along the way, it’s not going to be easy to stop him. Covington knows now is the time to cash in, and his status as one of the sport’s bigger draws will be hard to justify through multiple failed title-attempts against different titleholders. Assuming he’s at 100% and not rusty from all the inactivity, I’d expect one of the more fired-up versions of Covington that we’ve ever seen.
I tend to think here is where we see another overlooked aspect of fighting—the simple ability to cultivate wins. Edwards has been working on that part of his game and seeing it excel for nearly a decade. Against Usman, he found a way late with the surprise leg-kick KO, again manufacturing a win in the rematch. In trouble against Nate Diaz late, he braved his way to the finish line. Then we see Covington smashed to bits against Usman in the first fight and unable to get it done in the rematch. And sure, that common-opponent arithmetic oftentimes falls flat, but maybe it’s a fair representation of each man’s respective abilities and knack to steer trouble into victory.
I’m even inclined to give a veteran fighter like Covington, who has taken damage a pass for inactivity. Sometimes, a guy can even come back fresher after the break, so let’s put that to the side. I still think Covington is in for a potentially long and punishing night against a fighter in Edwards who is very “together,” difficult to rattle, and utterly professional in his approach. I think he may get picked apart by the sharper strikes of Edwards, while the champion does well enough on the ground against Covington’s wrestling expertise to get to the finish line ahead. I’ll take the champion in this one.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Leon Edwards at -125 betting odds. Covington is hard to bet against, but I think we have arrived at a point in time where Edwards represents the more solid and reliable fighting package and, therefore, the more bankable side in this matchup. Bet your predictions for FREE by scoring a 100% real cash bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $300 when you use bonus promo code PREDICT100 at MyBookie Sportsbook! Free bets are good bets!