UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Fight Card, Predictions, & Odds

min read
Colby Covington lands a punch against Kamaru Usman during a welterweight mixed martial arts championship bout at UFC 268.
(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 13, 2023, 6:45 PM
  • Leon Edwards defends his UFC welterweight title for the second time against Colby Covington.
  • Edwards is the betting favorite at -150.
  • Covington is the betting underdog at +125.

The last pay-per-view event of the UFC in 2023 goes down this Saturday, Dec. 16, inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as reigning UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards (21-3) defends his title against No. 3-ranked Colby Covington (17-3).

It is going to be the second time that Edwards will be defending his title since winning the belt in August 2022, and he’s tagged as the -150 betting favorite in UFC odds. On the other hand, Covington will be the +125 betting underdog as he looks to finally win the undisputed championship for the third time. 

Leon Edwards Recent Fight Results

Edwards was a BAMMA champion when he was signed by the UFC in 2015, and although he lost in his promotional debut against Claudio Silva, he climbed his way up to the top of the rankings and became a perennial contender in the welterweight division.

Since that defeat from Silva, Edwards went on to win 13 of his next 15 bouts, with the loss courtesy of Kamaru Usman in their first meeting in December 2015 and a no-contest result with Belal Muhammad in March 2021. He beat the likes of Vicente Luque, Bryan Barberena, Rafael dos Anjos, and Nate Diaz.

Edwards’ UFC title opportunity came in August 2022 when he faced Usman for the undisputed title and scored a come-from-behind knockout win in the final round via a head kick. He proved that his win against Usman was not a fluke after beating him again in their trilogy match in March 2023 via a majority decision to continue his reign as the king of the weight class.

Colby Covington Recent Fight Results

Covington was a former collegiate wrestler who won a state championship before transitioning to become a professional MMA fighter. He won his first five fights, and the UFC signed him in 2014, where he beat Anying Wang in his promotional debut via TKO.

Following that successful first match, he won eight of his nine fights and captured the interim UFC welterweight title with a unanimous decision against Rafael dos Anjos in June 2018. Covington received his first title opportunity against Usman in December 2019 but was defeated via fifth-round TKO.

He bounced back immediately by beating Tyron Woodley in September 2020 to warrant a rematch with Usman in November 2021, but once again fell short of winning the belt after a unanimous decision defeat. Covington’s last fight was a lopsided decision win against former teammate Jorge Masvidal in March 2022.

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington: Tale of the Tape

Leon EdwardsColby Covington
Reach74 inches72 inches
Leg Reach43 inches41 inches
Fighting StyleMMAWrestling
Finishing Rate48%47%

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington: Fight Analysis

On paper, Edwards has the advantage against Covington because of an inch of height (6 feet against 5-foot-11), 2 inches of reach (74 inches against 72 inches), and 2 inches of leg reach (43 inches against 41 inches) upper hand.

The defending champion is also three years younger, but their records are almost identical because they both have three losses. Edwards only has four more wins compared to Covington.

It will be a clash of styles because Edwards, even with his MMA-based fighting style, is more of a striker, while Covington continues to carry his strong wrestling background from his collegiate days.

This is reflected in their significant strikes landed per minute. Edwards has an output of 2.8 strikes landed per minute at a 53% rate and 2.4 significant strikes absorbed per minute with a 53% rate against Covington’s 4.1 significant strikes landed per minute with 39% rate and 3.05 significant strikes absorbed per minute with 55% rate.

The key for Edwards in this upcoming title showdown is to maximize his length to land his strikes fully. Fighting such a style with a wrestling-based and pressure-forward approach isn’t new to him because Usman had a similar style. He was able to utilize it by throwing more kicks, especially front kicks, to keep his opponent at a distance and score points simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Covington should pound on the pressure from the opening bell to disrupt Edwards’ rhythm and close the distance between them. This way, he won’t be able to throw his strikes, particularly the kicks. Once he gets a hold of his leg, the challenger should capitalize on securing a takedown and maneuver his way to a ground-and-pound.

Official Prediction: TKO/KO victory for Leon Edwards.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.