Under the watchful eyes of UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington stated his case for a shot at the 170-pound belt.
Covington utilized his signature style, stifling Robbie Lawler with relentless pressure for five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory (50-44, 50-45 2x) in the main event of UFC Newark.
The second-ranked welterweight returned to his infamous gimmick in the post-fight interview with Jon Anik. He thanked the family members of United States President Donald Trump that were in attendance as well as members of the US military before turning his focus toward his opponent tonight as well as a close friend of his.
“Let’s talk about the lesson we learned tonight,” Covington said. “It’s a strong lesson that Robbie should’ve learned from his good buddy Matt Hughes. You stay off the tracks when the train’s coming through, junior. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Trump train or the Colby train. Get out the way.”
The comment is in reference to the accident that the former welterweight champion Hughes was involved in. Hughes collided with a train while in his truck in 2017.
Covington then set his sights on Usman, riling up the champion who watched from the set of ESPN’s UFC Fight Night Post Show.
” I don’t want to wait until November 2, Madison Square Garden,” Covington said amidst the boos. “We can do it tonight. We can do it right now. Where you at?”
Unsurprisingly, Covington and Lawler didn’t touch gloves at the start of the fight.
Covington instantly brought pressure to Lawler, but the former welterweight king was able to fend it off early, sending Covington backward after tagging him. “Chaos” regrouped and returned to the gameplan. He pushed Lawler against the cage and began posing his will on him with his wrestling.
Covington was in full control once he got the fight to the mat, taking his back but failing to secure the neck for a fight-ending choke. Lawler was able to explode out of the position with less than a minute remaining, but he was dumped right back into the same spot once again before the round came to a close.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 3, 2019
Covington brought his trademark pressure again at the start of the second round. The pace of Covington kept Lawler on the defensive. Though “Ruthless” was able to bring the fight back to the feet, he rarely got his back off of the cage, which allowed Covington to continue the pattern of brief striking exchanges before dumping Lawler on the mat.
Lawler had a brief moment where he plodded forward at the end of the round, and he tried to do the same to start the third. His biggest moment of the fight to that point was when he was able to stuff a takedown attempt from Covington and land multiple punches with Covington still in range.
The brief spark from Lawler didn’t deter Covington for more than a moment. He returned to his leading role in the bout while Lawler backpedaled and bobbed, searching for heavy shots off of counters.
— UFC (@ufc) August 3, 2019
Both fighters showed signs of tiring as the fight entered the championship rounds. Covington didn’t let it affect him as the fourth round began. He came forward with his jab to back Lawler up before clinching against the cage.
Even at distance, Covington’s volume far outweighed that of Lawler. For the fourth-straight round, Covington led the dance, leaving Lawler desperate as the final five minutes began.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 3, 2019
“Ruthless” poured the remaining energy he possessed into the fifth round, and while he managed to find a home on numerous occasions, he was unable to put the second-ranked welterweight away. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Covington sealed his victory with a spinning kick followed by a backfist that opened a cut on the side of Lawler’s face.
By the end of the fight, Covington had landed 245 of 564 strikes, tripling the output of his opponent. On top of his volume, Covington secured 10 takedowns out of the 18 he attempted.
Following his tirade in the post-fight interview in the cage, Covington appeared on the post-fight show to exchange words with Usman. With security surrounding the desk and Karyn Bryant and Rashad Evans between them, the two welterweights traded barbs.
Security to analyst/guest ratio: 1/1. pic.twitter.com/fooMyuw1a0
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 3, 2019
The champion and Covington appear to be deadset on settling their differences in the cage on November 2 at UFC 244, which takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. As of right now, the fight is not official.
As for Covington’s opponent in Newark, Lawler is not finished. He entered the fight as the 11th-ranked welterweight, with one win in his last four fights. Yet at 37-years-old, “Ruthless” isn’t hanging up the gloves just yet.
“I need to just get back to the drawing board, get back to work, get in a little bit of better shape,” Lawler told Jon Anik in his post-fight interview. “I felt the best I’ve felt in a few years, but I’m gonna go back on Monday, get back to work and just get better.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.