UFC 225 Cheat Sheet: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington

Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington will fight Saturday night at UFC 225 for the interim welterweight belt. ESPN Illustration

Unless the UFC is sabotaged by one of its own stars this week, Saturday's UFC 225 pay-per-view looks like the deepest event of the year.

The same was said about UFC 223 two months ago, before things in Brooklyn started to unravel. There was an incident involving a famous Irishman, a dolly, a bus. Glass was shattered. Fights fell apart. You remember.

Barring any similar last-minute changes, however, the UFC 225 lineup is as deep as it gets. Two title fights. Five former UFC champions. Multiple rising prospects. Even a former pro wrestling star.

Here's everything you need to know about the UFC 225 co-main event, courtesy of ESPN's Cheat Sheets.

Rafael dos Anjos (28-9) vs. Colby Covington (13-1), interim welterweight championship

Odds: Dos Anjos -130; Covington +110

During an international media call last week, dos Anjos referred to Covington as a "worse version of Conor McGregor."

It was meant as an insult, but one could easily make a case that any comparison to McGregor -- even in the midst of his current legal issues -- is a welcome one. Covington, at least, didn't seem to take it to heart.

"No one cares about you, Ralfie," Covington responded. "No one cares."

That's an interesting comment coming from Covington, who has not accomplished nearly as much as dos Anjos at this point in their careers. Dos Anjos is a former 155-pound champion, attempting to become just the fifth athlete in UFC history to win titles in multiple weight classes.

Covington is a proven commodity at 170 pounds and is riding a five-fight win streak, but he has a lot of ground to make up to hold a candle to what dos Anjos has done.

Still. Is his overall sentiment wrong? After all, Covington has probably been the source of more headlines over the past year than dos Anjos.

Most are aware of how he's accomplished that. At a time in the sport when it seems to take a lot to stand out, Covington has turned to shock value. He's posted spoilers of popular movies online, posed with adult film stars and made a vulgar comment referencing U.S. President Donald Trump during the media call.

It's made Covington an obvious target for criticism. It also has people talking about him, period. Does that alone make it worth it? A lot of that may depend on the outcome of this fight.

Fight breakdown

Covington's most recent performance -- a three-round decision over Demian Maia -- was arguably one of his ugliest in the UFC. But he also took a completely different approach in it.

It was clear from the start, Covington had no respect for Maia's punching power. Covington is a tenacious former collegiate All-American wrestler, averaging six takedowns per fight in the UFC -- but when he fought Maia, he did not attempt a single one.

The result was a somewhat sloppy but dominant win. Covington's striking is not near the top of the division, but he showed a mean streak in his disdain for Maia's power, and you certainly have to give him credit for going to work. He threw 351 total strikes, which explains why he looked pretty gassed by the end.

Covington's strategy against dos Anjos will look a lot more like his first eight UFC fights -- smothering forward pressure and relentless takedown attempts. Even failed attempts are a success, as long as they tie dos Anjos up and frustrate his offense.

This matchup could actually end up ugly for either fighter, depending on the range at which it's fought. If Covington can get a hold of dos Anjos' hips and work consistent takedowns, he's capable of simply wrestling his way past a former lightweight champion. If dos Anjos lands some of his outstanding kicks to the body, however, and spurns Covington's shots, he'll have his way on the outside. He's also good in the clinch, if Covington tries to bully his way inside but can't control position.

And one thing about Covington: He has a tendency to lean in and duck his head forward in exchanges. Dos Anjos is the type of elite opponent who could really make him pay for a predictable habit like that. Perhaps something to look for.

Prediction: Dos Anjos via TKO, third round.