Edwards Retains Title With Comfortable Decision over Covington

December 18, 2023
4 months

Colby Covington looked like a different fighter at T-Mobile Arena Saturday night during UFC 296 in Paradise, Nevada. Gone was the man who constantly went forward, willing to weather the storm to try and secure takedowns. Instead, the American wrestler looked afraid to engage and test the power of welterweight champion Leon Edwards.

The main event came and went with little drama. Edwards stayed patient and picked his spots to coast to a 49-46 decision over Covington on all three judges’ scorecards. To add insult to injury for Covington, Edwards was willing to grapple with Covington and secured a takedown of his own.

Edwards’ comfortable victory was his second defense of the welterweight belt since he became champion. There are now several exciting contenders who can test Edwards and his 13-fight winning streak. This was his third loss in a championship fight for Covington and will likely be his last opportunity at UFC gold.

The Edwards and Covington fight was expected to be hotly contested, but MMA latest updates showed both men played it safe. The last UFC card of the year had plenty of ups and downs.

Pantoja Keeps Belt in Workmanlike Fashion

Alexandre Pantoja looked gassed in the fourth and fifth rounds. But having fought flyweight title challenger Brandon Royval before, Pantoja knew the keys to winning a fight. While Pantoja submitted Royval in their last fight, the Brazilian champion didn’t get a stoppage this time.

Pantoja utilized his wrestling and held Royval down for much of the fight. He converted eight of his 14 takedown attempts and landed 60.9 percent of his significant strike attempts. Royval, who had a reputation as an outstanding finisher, couldn’t put himself in dangerous positions. Royval did land 111 significant strikes but was too willing to accept the bottom position when Pantoja took him to the mat.

Rakhmonov Ready for His Title Shot

There was a nice moment for Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson when he was accompanied to the octagon by Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the band Tenacious D. The duo that sang the song “Wonderboy,” which Thompson adopted as his song to walk to the octagon may have provided Thompson with his best moment of the night.

Otherwise, his welterweight fight was a nightmare. Thompson, now more of a gatekeeper as a veteran fighter, saw up-and-comer Shavkat Rakhmonov kick that door in. Rakhmonov bullied Thompson. He would get the fight to the mat in the second round and secure a rear-naked choke to end the fight. Rakhmonov is now 18-0 in his career, with all 18 wins coming by finish, according to MMA news websites.

Pimblett Extends Ferguson’s Misery

Tony Ferguson needs to retire. If he is unwilling, the UFC should take that decision from him. Ferguson tied a UFC record by losing his seventh fight in a row, losing a unanimous decision to Paddy Pimblett. All three rounds were scored for Pimblett, who outclassed the older fighter.

Ferguson survived nearly being finished in the first round due to his excellent skills on the ground. However, Ferguson would spend plenty of time on his back in the octagon. In the only round that Ferguson outlanded Pimblett, the third, Pimblett would score a takedown to grab control and coast to a win.

Thunderous Punch Flattens Mitchell

Bryce Mitchell likely wishes he could go back and not accept the short-notice fight with Josh Emmett. Emmett hit Mitchell so hard that with a right hand just under two minutes into the first round, it sent Mitchell straight to sleep. While on the canvas, Mitchell was convulsing on the octagon floor.

Mitchell was in such a bad state that he was helped straight out of the octagon and didn’t join referee Herb Dean and Emmett at the center of the octagon as the decision was read. The win was momentous for Emmett, considered one of the most powerful strikers in the featherweight division, who had been on a two-fight losing streak.

Garbrandt Back on Track

Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt has hoped to return to the championship picture for years. By knocking out Brian Kelleher in the first round, Garbrandt secured a second straight victory for the first time since he won 11 fights to open his career.

Since that streak stopped, in a title defense against T.J. Dillashaw in November 2017, Garbrandt put together a 3-4 record. Garbrandt hopes that the back-to-back wins can get him fighting top opposition again as he works to rebuild his career, according to MMA breaking news.

Queen of Violence Punishes O’Neill

Casey O’Neill finds herself in a similar position to where Ariane Lipski used to be. O’Neill came into the UFC with a lot of hype but will now find herself still trying to prove that she deserved that notoriety. O’Neill has now lost two straight fights and is 9-2 in her career.

Lipski bullied O’Neill. She bullied her with her strikes and earned a win in the second round by armbar. Lipski has twice suffered two-fight losing streaks during her time in the UFC, but now has won three straight and is fulfilling her earlier promise. O’Neill may be able to follow a similar path.

Aldana Demonstrates Plenty of Aggression

Karol Rosa and Irene Aldana took a picture together in the hospital, sporting several large bruises on their faces. For Aldana, it was essential to show that type of tenacity after she was far too passive in her challenge with Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight championship earlier this year. Both Aldana and Rosa left everything in the octagon on Saturday.

The two women combined to throw 658 significant strikes. Rosa landed 204 significant strikes and landed at a 58 percent rate but did most of her damage to the legs of Aldana. Aldana, meanwhile, landed many more shots to the face. Her power would end up swaying the judges.

Aldana won a 29-28 decision despite landing nearly 50 fewer strikes than her opponent.

Menifield Scores A Decision

Alonzo Menifield won the featured preliminary by outlasting Dustin Jacoby by a unanimous decision. Here’s a look at the other fights from Saturday that were not mentioned above.

  • Flyweight: Tagir Ulanbekov submitted Cody Durden, Round 2, 4:25
  • Featherweight: Andre Fili win by TKO (punches) over Lucas Almeida, Round 1, 3:23
  • Heavyweight: Shamil Gaziev win by TKO (punches) over Martin Buday, Round 2, :56

Find all the latest boxing news and MMA breaking updates on boxingnews.com