MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN 5, a five-round non-title bout between welterweight contenders Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler. The event takes place this Saturday, August 3 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Colby Covington (-245)
Covington (14-1) is the former UFC interim welterweight champion. The 31-year-old American is one of the most polarizing figures currently in MMA. Known for his brash trash talk and allegiance to US president Donald Trump outside the cage, Covington is also a relentless wrestler with an endless gas tank inside the cage. He has some of the best wrestling skills and maybe the best cardio in the entire UFC welterweight division. “Chaos” has a 9-1 record in the UFC and is currently riding a six-fight win streak into this matchup against Lawler. In Covington’s last fight, he picked up the biggest win of his career, a decision nod over Rafael dos Anjos. However, that fight was over a year ago, and Lawler has been waiting for a title shot ever since. The layoff could come into play here. He couldn’t wait any longer and decided to take this fight against the always-dangerous Lawler, with UFC president Dana White saying he would get a title shot if he wins. Covington’s wrestling skills will have to be sharp in this one as Lawler will be looking to keep the fight standing and take his head off. It should be a very intriguing matchup to watch play out, and the main event of UFC on ESPN 5 should be a good one.
Robbie Lawler (+205)
Lawler (28-13, 1 NC) is the former UFC welterweight champion. The 37-year-old American is one of the most respected and accomplished MMA fighters of all time, and a sure-fire UFC Hall of Famer when he hangs up his gloves. One of the greatest punchers in MMA history, Lawler has 20 career knockout victories. Since 2001, Lawler has been fighting at the highest levels of the sport and he has achieved much success along the way. He has competed all over the world for promotions such as Strikeforce, PRIDE, EliteXC, King of the Cage, ICON Sport, the IFL, and of course the UFC. It’s inside the Octagon where Lawler has achieved his greatest accomplishments, including defeating Johny Hendricks to win the UFC welterweight title in 2014. “Ruthless” went on to defend the belt twice against Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald in two of the greatest fights in MMA history. Since then, Lawler has struggled. He was knocked out by Tyron Woodley to lose his belt, bounced back with a decision win over Donald Cerrone, then lost back-to-back fights against Rafael dos Anjos and Ben Askren. He appears to be on a decline, although the fight with Askren showed that he is still dangerous. Lawler can never be counted out because he has thunderous knockout power in his fists, but it appears he has lost a step. He is now tasked with playing spoiler against Covington and thwarting his chances of getting a title shot.
Fight Breakdown: I really like this matchup between former training partners at American Top Team. It’s essentially a grappler vs. striker matchup and it’s always interesting to see how they play out. Covington is one of the most effective wrestlers in the UFC welterweight division and has an endless gas tank. On the other hand, Lawler is an incredibly dangerous striker who has improved his takedown defense over the years. Whoever is able to dictate what realm this fight takes place in will get their hand raised. My prediction is Covington is able to shove Lawler against the fence and tire him out in the early goings, and as the fight goes on he will be able to take Lawler to the mat and smother him. I’m not expecting the most exciting fight in the world here, but I do think Covington is going to do enough to get the job done. Lawler is incredibly durable and Covington doesn’t have the greatest finishing ability, so my prediction is for Covington to grind Lawler out for 25 minutes and win a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards. We’ll see if that’s enough for him to get the next welterweight title shot.
Prediction: Colby Covington wins via decision