The UFC returns to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey with an ESPN card. This article is a UFC on ESPN 5 main card preview, where we will take a closer look at the six contests on the main card. In the main event, former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington faces former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in a welterweight contender bout. In the co-main event, veterans finally meet as Jim Miller faces Clay Guida at 155-pounds.
If you would like to know more about the female contests this weekend, click here to read about the three women’s flyweight bouts on the preliminary card.
Darko Stosic vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu:
In the UFC on ESPN 5 main card opener, light heavyweight prospects collide as Darko Stosic battles Kennedy Nzechukwu. Stosic (13-2) enters the contest coming off his first loss in four-and-a-half years. The 27-year-old lost a closely-contested decision to Devin Clark back in June. Two months later, Stosic returns for vengeance. Stosic is a protégé of Mirko Cro Cop – so you know he is a bad man. Stosic has finished eight of his 13 wins via knockout.
Fighting the Cro Cop protégé is the “African Savage”. Nzechukwu was born in Imo State, Nigeria and is now based out of Dallas, Texas where he trains at Fortis MMA. The 27-year-old earned his UFC contract after winning twice on Dana White’s Contender Series in as many seasons. However, the “African Savage” suffered a setback in his UFC debut, losing to Scotland’s #1 Triangle Choke expert Paul Craig. Nzechukwu has finished four of his six wins via knockout.
In an exciting matchup between knockout artists with KO percentages of over 60%, fists will fly early. Who will bounce back in style, Stosic or Nzechukwu?
Scott Holtzman vs. Dong Hyun Ma:
At 155-pounds, “Hot Sauce” returns as Scott Holtzman faces Dong Hyun Ma. Holtzman (12-3) trains out of The MMA LAB in Glendale, Arizona. The 35-year-old has won three of his last four contests. However, he did lose his last bout to Nik Lentz earlier this year. Holtzman has a UFC record of 5-3 and is looking to return to the win in Newark.
Ma (19-9-3) is also looking to return to the win column, as he has also won three of his last four bouts. The 30-year-old most recently suffered a first-round knockout loss to Devonte Smith back in February. Despite having three wins in the UFC, all of his wins have come against opponents who are no longer in the organization.
Holtzman is the heavy favorite going into this contest and rightfully so. But, Ma can throw some heat and doesn’t shy away from a bloodbath? Will Holtzman cruise to victory or will Ma prove the oddsmakers wrong?
Trevin Giles vs. Gerald Meerschaert:
In the third bout on the UFC on ESPN 5 main card, Trevin Giles faces Gerald Meerschaert is a must-win bout for both men. Giles (11-1) is coming off his first professional loss to Zak Cummings last May. Despite averaging multiple bouts a year before 2018, his bout against Cummings was his first contest in 18 months. Giles needs a win to keep himself relevant at 185-pounds, to show if he really “The Problem” at middleweight.
On the other hand, Meerschaert desperately needs a UFC victory. The 31-year-old has lost back-to-back bouts, most recently being on the wrong end of a split decision to Kevin Holland. Besides that loss, Meerschaert has only lost to title contenders in Jack Hermansson and Thiago Santos. Despite tough competition, it is likely won or go home for the Wisconsin native.
Both men are in their physical prime, but who will come out on top? Will Giles prove himself at 185-pounds or will Meerschaert save his UFC career?
Joaquim Silva vs. Nasrat Haqparast:
In a battle between lightweight prospects, Brazil’s Joaquim Silva meets Germany’s Nasrat Haqparast. Silva (11-1) had a career-best performance last time out, as he savaged fellow prospect Jared Gordon in the third round last December. After impressing with submission attempts, “Netto BJJ” used his hands to deliver the knockout blows. His only UFC loss was a narrow decision to Vinc Pichel – which some people thought he won.
Meanwhile, Haqparast (10-2) has impressed since dropping his UFC debut to Marcin Held. The 23-year-old has scored consecutive dominant decision victories over Marc Diakiese and Thibault Gouti. Despite winning, the heavy-handed German has not scored a stoppage win in the UFC yet – when all of his wins outside the UFC were all via (T)KO.
Both men are legit competitors, but only one of them can win. Will Silva score another win as the underdog or will Haqparast earn his first UFC stoppage?
Jim Miller vs. Clay Guida:
In the co-main event of the UFC on ESPN 5 main card, UFC veterans collide. Jim Miller faces Clay Guida at 155-pounds. Miller (30-13-0, 1 No Contest) has been in the UFC since 2008. The 35-year-old will enter the Octagon for the 33rd time on Saturday. Most recently, Miller submitted Jason Gonzalez in just over two minutes in the first round back in April. In 30 MMA wins, Miller has 20 via stoppage – four via (T)KO and 16 via submission.
Opposite Miller, Guida (35-18) has been in the UFC since 2006. The 37-year-old has a UFC record of 15-12 within those 13 years. “The Carpenter” has won three of his last four contests. Most recently, Guida defeated former champion BJ Penn via decision in May. In 35 MMA victories, Guida also has 20 wins via stoppage – five via (T)KO and 15 via submission. Between both men, they have a staggering 87 MMA fights and have won 65 of them combined.
Which veteran will turn back the clock in New Jersey? Miller or Guida?
Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler:
In the main event of the evening, outspoken welterweight contender Colby Covington battles former American Top Team teammate Robbie Lawler. Covington (14-1) will be making his return to the cage after 14 months away. Most recently, Covington defeated Rafael dos Anjos over five rounds to win the interim welterweight title. However, he was stripped of his title and the belt was fought for twice since then. Now, Kamaru Usman is the UFC champion and Covington is likely to fight next if he gets past Robbie Lawler. The ATT member is 9-1 in the UFC and has won five-straight contests.
However, Lawler (28-13) isn’t any stepping stone. He is a former champion in his own right and has the moniker “Ruthless” for a reason. Despite coming off back-to-back losses to Rafael dos Anjos and Ben Askren, it’s still Robbie Lawler. In his most recent contest against Askren, Lawler looked better than ever physically and manhandled Askren throughout the opening minutes. He is rightfully the underdog with two wins since 2016, but Lawler could give Covington big problems if Covington isn’t on form – and even if he is he still has to be careful.
In a matchup between a relentless wrestler and a professional savage, expect a fun contest. I think both men will have their moments in the bout. Will Covington continue his winning streak or will Lawler punch his way back into title contention?
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