This Saturday, March 5th, the UFC hosts possibly their biggest Pay-Per View of the year in an intense non-title fight main event. The long-awaited clash between former friends turned rivals, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, who are immense PPV draws by themselves is set to take place after years of intense back and forth confrontations between the two. In the co-main event, the veteran and multiple division legend Rafael Dos Anjos will take on Rafael Moicano on less than a week’s notice. Another legend, Edson Barboza, will take to the octagon to face the undefeated featherweight, Bryce Mitchell. Kevin “Big Mouth” Holland returns to the octagon to regain his footing after a couple losses to strong middleweight contenders and an unfortunate no contest. The card is stacked from top to bottom and is a must watch card of the year.
Starting off with Kevin Holland versus Alex Oliveira as the second fight of the night, we get to witness two fighters coming off of losing streaks with Holland losing 2 of his last 3 fights with the most recent being a no contest due to an unfortunate head collision which knocked him out. Pereira, a perennial unranked veteran has lost his last 3 fights, and with a losing record and increasing age, has to prove his place in the roster against a strong contender in Kevin Holland. Holland, known for his excellent striking and trash-talk in the ring, has a point to prove as he has suffered his last 2 defeats against top middleweight contenders Vettori and Brunson. Dropping to welterweight to face Oliveira, Holland will have to use this tune-up fight to regain his footing and start a winning streak like he had just a couple of years ago when he racked up 5 wins in under a year. Holland promised to send Oliveira into retirement, so there are high expectations on both sides to save face.
Next up on the card and the third fight of the night sees the legendary highlight-worthy fighter Edson Barboza taking on an Arkansas farm boy in Bryce Mitchell, who has not seen a loss in his professional MMA career. Barboza needs almost no introduction as any fan of the sport is likely familiar with his devastating knockout highlights that have sent stiff opponents crashing into the canvas as a result of his devastating power in his punches and kicks. Wielding some of the best kicks the UFC has ever seen, Barboza is always lethal from any range, whether attacking low or high. Bryce Mitchell on the other hand does not boast too much in the striking department in comparison to Barboza but specializes on the ground where he has been able to drown opponents with his strong wrestling and jiu-jitsu abilities. Barboza is coming off a loss to Giga Chikadze, where he was bested in the striking. He sits at 2-2 in his new endeavor at featherweight after switching from lightweight and has much to prove in the weight class if he wants to make a potential title run. Mitchell on the other hand is facing his toughest opponent to date as he takes on an elite level striker and veteran with much more experience than him. Mitchell is undeterred by the challenge as his grappling has not been defeated by anyone in the octagon to date. If the fight stays on the feet, it is open season for Barboza, but the second it hits the canvas, Mitchell will have the utmost advantage over the legend.
The Co-main event was originally set to be between two-division legend and former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos and the surging Rafael Fiziev in a matchup I was looking forward to as much as the main event. Unfortunately, Fiziev pulled out of the fight during fight week due to COVID. To save the fight, Renato Moicano, who just fought in mid-February, stepped up to take the fight at 155-lbs. Moicano’s last fight against Alexander Hernandez left him without much damage as he submitted Hernandez early in the second round. Moicano is on a 2-win streak after suffering a loss to the original opponent, Rafael Fiziev back in December of 2020. Moicano sports an elite grappling pedigree and well-versed striking pedigree but sits outside of the top 15 in the lightweight rankings. Dos Anjos, sporting a high-level Jiu-Jistu and striking pedigree as well sits at #6 in the rankings. The veteran Dos Anjos has had a tough time making fights work out for him the last two years with his last fight being a short notice fight against a now retired Paul Felder in Dos Anjos’ return to the lightweight division back in November of 2020. Dos Anjos has been a replacement fighter for title fights and has had to pull out of fights due to COVID and injuries on both sides. The matchup is perfect for Moicano as he has everything to gain with a victory, but the fight spells out bad news for Dos Anjos with a loss as it would be to an unranked opponent. Both fighters have more submission victories than knockouts, thus it will be interesting to see the Jiu-Jitsu at play during the fight. Dos Anjos seems to have the strength and experience advantage over the young Moicano, but should be a challenging fight for both fighters still.
The main event and the biggest PPV draw of the year, aside from McGregor possibly returning, finally has Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal settling their personal beef within the octagon. The two were former training partners as Covington, the all-American division 1 wrestler, was brought in to Masvidal’s camp to improve the grappling ability of Masvidal. As the two progressed through the UFC’s welterweight division, differences arose and Covington left their gym at American Top Team. Since their split, both have challenged for the title twice, with both suffering two defeats to the champion Kamaru Usman. Jorge Masvidal boasts some of the best and clever striking in the welterweight division, boasting some of the best highlight knockouts in his last 3 wins. Since then, Masvidal has only fought Usman twice, losing both and getting brutally knocked out for the first time in his career in their last altercation. Both fighters are coming off losses to the champ as Covington most recently lost to Usman in November of last year via unanimous decision (questionable). The fight is not a clear #1 contender fight for the title, but the winner would likely find themselves fighting for the title soon after. Covington’s grappling ability and immense cardio are unmatched by all in the division barring the champion. The fight is the ideal grappler versus striker scenario. Masvidal will likely see victory if he can keep the fight standing, but Colby is utterly dominant in the takedown and pacing and can keep the fight right where he wants it if Masvidal cannot defend his takedown attempts. With the two being former training partners, they know their tricks and little habits, and will make this fight a lot more interesting than it would be otherwise. Drama aside, this fight is a great match-up and a must-watch fight of the year.