“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and Colby “Chaos” Covington will collide in the UFC Newark main event on Aug. 3. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this news late Monday night.
FanDuel opened Covington as a -160 favorite, with Lawler listed as a +130 underdog.
This is a surprising turn of events because Covington was supposedly in line for the next title shot against new welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman.
Covington won the UFC’s interim welterweight belt on June 9 of 2018 by defeating former lightweight kingpin Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision. However, when he turned down a unification bout against then-champ Tyron Woodley because he had to have nasal surgery, the promotion stripped him of his interim belt.
Then Woodley was booked to face Darren Till, who was submitted in the second round at UFC 228. Instead of making Woodley-Covington at that point, Usman was given the title shot.
The Nigerian wrestler took full advantage and dominated Woodley to win the 170-pound strap at UFC 235 on March 9. Usman, who Covington refers to as “Snoozeman” since eight of his 10 UFC wins have come by decision, is currently recovering from double hernia surgery and reportedly can’t defend his belt until November at the earliest.
Covington showed up in Las Vegas for UFC 235 to publicly make a huge fuss about Usman getting the shot at Woodley. He went as far as approaching President Dana White (while his team had the cameras rolling) bitching about the situation while White was playing blackjack in a High Rollers area.
When asked about it the next day, White insisted that Covington would undoubtedly face the Woodley-Usman winner. After all, “Chaos” owns a 14-1 career record and a 9-1 mark inside the Octagon.
When last night’s news broke, Okamoto reached out to Covington asking him why he would take this fight against Lawler instead of waiting for the shot at Usman.
Covington replied to Okamoto via text, “Yes sir. Time to defend the real belt in welterweight vs the last real champion in the division. America’s champ always answers the call.”
Lawler and Covington are former teammates at American Top Team in South Florida. Lawler left ATT in 2017 and joined Hard Knocks 365.
The 37-year-old Lawler (28-13-1 MMA, 13-7 UFC) won the welterweight title with a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 of 2014. He would successfully defend his strap twice in epic battles with Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit.
But at UFC 201 in Atlanta on July 30 of 2016, Woodley took Lawler’s belt with a first-round knockout. Lawler bounced back in 2017 when he won a unanimous decision over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 214.
He then sustained a torn ACL in a unanimous-decision defeat to Dos Anjos on Dec. 16 of 2017. Lawler returned from the injury at UFC 235 and seemed to be on his way to an easy victory against unbeaten promotional newcomer, Ben Askren.
In the opening moments of the fight, Lawler escaped a choke attempt and dropped Askren on his head with authority. Lawler proceeded to pound Askren with an array of punches and elbows that opened up a nice cut.
Askren somehow withstood the barrage, however, and eventually worked his way back to his feet. He was then able to lock in a bulldog choke on Lawler from a standing position.
Referee Herb Dean intervened and called a stop to the bout, but Lawler instantaneously argued the stoppage. It was a huge controversy, as Lawler certainly didn’t seem as if he had been “out” moments before as he protested to Dean.
After his initial dispute with Dean, Lawler cooled down and was a class act like he’s been throughout his career.
On the flip side, Covington’s behavior is the opposite. He thrives upon making waves with his obnoxious actions. Covington constantly refers to Brazilians as “filthy animals” and has been accused of being both racist and homophobic.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
- After openly discussing a three-fight plan for 2019 to close out his storied career, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo has signed a new eight-fight deal with the UFC. Aldo won’t turn 33 until September, so it makes sense. He won back-to-back fights by knockout over Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano before dropping a unanimous decision to Alexander Vokanowski at UFC 237.
- Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez will be seeking a third straight win when he takes on Michael Chiesa in the UFC 239 main card opener on July 6 in Las Vegas. Sanchez abruptly decided to leave his long-time team, Jackson-Winklejohn Academy, just three weeks before facing Chiesa. At Monday’s UFC 239 media day in Los Angeles, Sanchez said, “All I know is I wasn’t learning. I wasn’t growing as a mixed martial artist. With Greg Jackson, it was maybe one or two privates a camp, but never really any true love — the type of true love that a trainer should have for his fighter.” Sanchez hasn’t won three fights in a row since 2019, but he’s off wins over Craig White and Mickey Gall.
- Fan favorite Todd Duffee will make his long-awaited Octagon return on Sept. 14 when he faces Jeff Hughes at UFC Vancouver. Duffee, who is 9-3 overall and 3-2 in the UFC, has fought only twice in the last 6.5 years. He last competed on July 15 of 2015, losing to Frank Mir by first-round KO in a 73-second slugfest. All three of his UFC wins have come via first-round KOs, including a seven-second win over Tim Hague and a 33-second destruction of Anthony Hamilton.
- The UFC Newark card is throwing a curveball at MMA fans in terms of when it starts. The prelims will get going at noon Eastern and the main card starts at 3:00. I love when we get Saturday or Sunday afternoon cards over in Europe, so I have zero complaints.
- Two other fights have been added to the UFC Newark card. Lightweight stalwarts Clay Guida and Jim Miller will square off in a clash of 155ers. Also, Ilir Latifi and Volkan Oezdemire will face each other in a light-heavyweight showdown that was scrapped at the last minute recently at UFC Stockholm.