UFC 272 is the setting to end the rivalry, call an end to the bad blood and settle the war of words between Jorge Masvidal and former teammate, former training partner, former cornerman, Colby Covington. These two welterweights used to be the best of friends before turning on each other, taking swipes at one another online and now agreeing to settle it all in the ultimate proving ground. We take a look at Jorge Masvidal’s keys to victory in what promises to be a blockbuster event. We broke down the fight in the latest MMASucka podcast which is available now:
Punish Colby When the Fight gets to the Clinch
We know that Colby Covington has elite wrestling. Although his accuracy is just 46%, his pursuit of the takedown is relentless. He lands 4.10 takedowns on average, proving just how determined he is to get the fight to the floor. If it doesn’t go his way, he often looks to get his opponent into the clinch as a ‘plan B’. If and when this happens, Masvidal must punish Covington in the clinch to deter him from holding onto the position or going to the position again later in the fight.
We know that Masvidal can be nasty in the clinch. Against Nate Diaz, he punished the Stockton native early in the clinch, landing knees to the body of Diaz when in close. What was important for Masival is that when he got a little separation, he exploded, landing heavy elbows and going to a temporary muay thai clinch to get more torque on his shots.
If Masvidal can hurt Covington early when the fight gets to the clinch, he could not only avoid getting taken down (Kamaru Usman utilised the clinch to take Masvidal multiple times) but also deter Chaos from relying on the clinch position later in the fight.
Stay in Open Space and don’t get Backed up
Similar to the tactic of punishing Colby when the fight gets into the clinch, Masvidal could avoid having to do that too often if he is able to stay in open space. We saw against Tyron Woodley that when Covington was able to back Woodley up to the fence, he waded in with winging punches in order to get the fight into the clinch and clock up valuable control time.
We’ve also seen Masvidal have a tendency to back-up when defending, rather than cutting an angle. We saw it against Darren Till early on in their fight, which lead to Masvidal being dropped by the Brit. We also saw it against Usman, especially in the first round of their first fight. This lead to a clinch situation where the bigger man, Usman was able to dominate. We can see Masvidal get dropped by Till here when he backed up in a straight line. With his back to the fence, there was nowhere to go. If this happens against Covington, expect him to shoot for a takedown.
When Masvidal does get backed up, we see him explode with a flurry of punches, which is a tactic he must use if he is backed up when facing Covington. The knockout of Darren Till came following an explosion from Masvidal, so it’s clear that the tactic works. We also saw him rush Ben Askren with the infamous flying knee knockout, as well as utilise the explosion as far back as 2014 when he faced James Krause.
Don’t settle if he gets taken down
The stats would suggest that at some point in the fight, Colby Covington will take down Jorge Masvidal. Although he wasn’t accredited with any takedowns against Usman last time out, anyone who watched the fight saw that Covington got the fight to the ground. With that being said, Masvidal has a 75% takedown defence, which would suggest that he’s capable of keeping it on the feet.
When Covington faced Bryan Barbarena, he scored 12 takedowns over 15 minutes, he scored eight against Dong Hyun Kim, seven against Rafael dos Anjos and an impressive 10 against Robbie Lawler. It’s also important to remember that Covington doens’t always need a takedown to control his opponents, against Woodley, he didn’t score any takedowns, however, clocked up 3:23 of control time in the third round.
Masvidal cannot settle if he gets taken down by ‘Chaos’. Against Usman in their first fight, Masvidal was taken down in the first 15 seconds, however, responded by landing vicious elbows and cuffing shots on Usman. In the same sequence, whenever there was a little space, Gamebread looked to accentuate that space, land on Usman and get back to his feet. This is exactly what he needs to do against Covington on Saturday night.
From round three against Usman, Masvidal looked a lot more accepting of the takedown and was a lot less urgent to make it back to his feet. We saw much more holding whilst on his back from Masvidal the later the fight went and again, he cannot do this against Covington in Saturday’s main event. If he does, Covington will happily stay active enough to keep the position and clock up control time on his way to victory.
Further Keys to Victory
- Land the teep kick. Masivdal would benefit from this as it’s a more difficult kick to counter off of and land a takedown. We’ve seen Masivdal throw and land this kick often in his career so we know that it’s in his arsenal.
- Keep his head. He can’t get over emotional and rush in as this will play into the hands of Covington.
- Distract Covington with jabs before landing the low kick. This will keep Covington’s hands high to block the punches and make sure that he is unable to grab the leg and secure the takedown.
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