A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 245 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Kamaru Usman (15-1) vs. Colby Covington (15-1)
■ Class: For Usman’s welterweight title
■ Line: Usman minus 190
■ Storyline: Any doubts about Usman’s style being able to translate against top competition was erased after his dominant performance over Tyron Woodley to win the world title. Usman smothered the elite wrestler and was rarely challenged en route to the one-sided decision. Covington brings a similar style, but he’s more of a volume striker than a powerful one. For all the focus on the ridiculous character Covington plays to promote himself, his ability is no joke. He’s a good wrestler, and his cardio is unquestioned. The problem might be that Usman is simply better in the areas in which Covington usually has a major advantage.
■ Hill’s pick: Usman by decision
■ Fang’s pick: Usman by decision
Max Holloway (21-4) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (20-1)
■ Class: For Holloway’s lightweight title
■ Line: Holloway minus 180
■ Storyline: Volkanovski is a former professional rugby player and a massive problem for any opponent. His unique combination of strength and athleticism has helped him win 17 consecutive fights, including seven straight since entering the UFC. He’s a capable kickboxer, too, though Holloway is on another level. Volkanovski’s pressure and the threat of takedowns should be the great equalizer. Holloway must be careful of overextending or risk ending up on his back, where Volkanovski can be smothering. The key could be who is more aggressive, as both prefer to move forward and force opponents to their back foot. Neither has lost a fight at 145 pounds since 2013.
■ Hill’s pick: Holloway by decision
■ Fang’s pick: Holloway by fourth-round knockout
Amanda Nunes (18-4) vs. Germaine de Randamie (9-3)
■ Class: For Nunes’ women’s bantamweight title
■ Line: Nunes minus 310
■ Storyline: This is a rematch of a 2013 bout won by Nunes by first-round knockout. Both fighters have improved immensely since that fight. Nunes has won titles in two weight classes and built perhaps the best resume of any female fighter ever. De Randamie won the featherweight belt, but vacated it after turning down a fight against Cris “Cyborg” Justino. At the time of the first meeting, de Randamie was in the infancy of her MMA transition after an undefeated world championship kickboxing career. Nunes scored the knockout with elbows on the mat after securing a takedown, and de Randamie said the loss made her realize she needed to improve her ground game. She said she thinks Nunes will try to get her down again instead of trading with her on the feet, but Nunes is brimming with confidence after scoring knockouts in four of her last five against elite competition.
■ Hill’s pick: Nunes by second-round knockout
■ Fang’s pick: Nunes by second-round knockout
Marlon Moraes (22-6-1) vs. Jose Aldo (28-5)
■ Class: Bantamweight
■ Line: Moraes minus 210
■ Storyline: Aldo, one of the sport’s greatest featherweights ever, drops to bantamweight for the first time. It was a surprising move for a fighter who has had some difficult weight cuts to 145 pounds. He didn’t look good this week but made weight Friday. Moraes was on a tear before losing a title bout to Henry Cejudo in June. Both fighters possess dangerous kicks. Aldo is the more technical striker and has become phenomenal defensively. The questions about the weight, particularly how it could affect his cardio, might be enough to swing the fight.
■ Hill’s pick: Moraes by decision
■ Fang’s pick: Moraes by first-round knockout
Petr Yan (13-1) vs. Urijah Faber (35-10)
■ Class: Bantamweight
■ Line: Yan minus 475
■ Storyline: There were a lot of naysayers when Faber decided to come out of retirement at age 40 to fight Ricky Simon in July. He silenced most of them with a 46-second knockout victory. His reward is a difficult matchup against Yan, an aggressive striker who might be a win away from a title shot. Yan typically comes forward constantly but might take a more cautious approach against Faber, a collegiate wrestler with a strong ground game.
■ Hill’s pick: Yan by second-round knockout
■ Fang’s pick: Faber by second-round submission
Adam Hill Las Vegas Review-Journal