One hour after receiving a message of assist on social media from the president of the US, Colby Covington went out and dismantled Robbie Lawler for 25 minutes — proving, past any doubt, he’s subsequent in line to problem defending champion Kamaru Usman.
Covington set a UFC document for tried strikes (541) within the bout, and likewise transformed 10 of his 18 takedown makes an attempt.
Will that tempo be sufficient to beat Usman? It is powerful to say, however there is no such thing as a debating it ought to be the following matchup for the belt at 170 kilos. So what’s subsequent for Covington and a few of the key fighters who had been on Saturday’s UFC Combat Night time card? Right here is ESPN’s take.
Colby Covington, welterweight
End result: Defeated Robbie Lawler through unanimous determination
Subsequent: Kamaru Usman
Clear as day. Actually, Covington most likely ought to have obtained a shot earlier than Usman did, at UFC 235 earlier this yr. However Covington could not get on the identical web page because the UFC so far as making a welterweight title shot occur, whereas going over a yr with out combating, and his shot went to another person because of this.
It might be nearly unimaginable for that to occur to Covington once more. He isn’t solely the plain alternative for Usman, he is the one alternative, actually. As spectacular as Jorge Masvidal has been in 2019, his profitable streak stands at two. Covington has gained seven straight, together with back-to-back wins over former champions in Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos.
I’ve truly wished to see this matchup for years. I referred to as for it earlier of their careers, as these two had been making their approach by way of the ranks. Now, I am grateful that it by no means occurred. It is a incredible championship matchup, and there are many earlier interactions between these two to get the general public enthusiastic about it.
Robbie Lawler, welterweight
End result: Misplaced to Colby Covington through unanimous determination
Subsequent: Stephen Thompson
One of many reactions I noticed most on social media Saturday was one thing to the impact of: Lawler did not attempt. He did not let his palms go. He by no means went for broke.
I’ve a pair ideas on that. You need to give Covington plenty of credit score for it. It isn’t straightforward to throw with unhealthy intentions while you’re below a continuing barrage of strikes, as Lawler was on this struggle. He additionally needed to fear about getting taken down, and his again was in opposition to the fence for a lot of the struggle. Covington’s tempo clearly wore on him.
And remember, Lawler is not actually often called a “excessive quantity” man. He tried 171 strikes Saturday, in line with UFC Stats. That quantity is just about proper in keeping with his different five-round fights within the UFC, by which he tried 212, 177, 156, 201, 200 and (the one outlier) 331.
I do not assume Saturday was proof of Lawler’s performances falling off a cliff. I believe he merely ran right into a well-conditioned, well-rounded, hungry opponent who beat him. Now, that mentioned, he is in want of a win. So is Thompson, who has talked about combating dos Anjos in November. I might favor to see him struggle Lawler.
Jim Miller, light-weight
End result: Defeated Clay Guida through first-round submission
Subsequent: Lando Vannata
Welcome to the 20-win membership, Jim Miller. He joins a distinguished checklist with solely 4 different males who’ve achieved it: Donald Cerrone (23), Demian Maia (21), Georges St-Pierre (20) and Michael Bisping (20).
It virtually feels as if Miller has fought your complete roster at this level. He says he needs to maintain it going, so how about Miller vs. ‘Groovy’ Vannata on Oct. 18 in Boston? Vannata has had an odd UFC profession. It began with a short-notice struggle in opposition to Tony Ferguson in July 2016. Vannata misplaced, however he carried out properly. He has since had two attracts, a few disappointing performances in opposition to fellow prospects, and at last a first-round submission win in his final bout in opposition to Marcos Mariano in February.
It is a enjoyable matchup between two guys with enjoyable types.
Nasrat Haqparast, light-weight
End result: Defeated Joaquim Silva through second-round KO
Subsequent: Alexander Hernandez
Is it too early to match up Haqparast with a top-15 expertise? I do not assume so. A few of you most likely know, I have been championing Haqparast for some time now. I’m a giant believer on this 23-year-old’s potential, and he flashed it huge time in that Saturday knockout.
Hernandez is up there within the rankings, however he is coming off a controversial win over Francisco Trinaldo in July that was removed from a crowd pleaser. Earlier than that, he suffered a humbling loss in January by the hands of Cerrone, on a high-profile UFC Combat Night time in Brooklyn. In different phrases, he is in a great spot within the rankings, however he isn’t able to essentially name his subsequent shot.
Haqparast is likely to be unranked, however he has some well-deserved buzz round him at this level, with three consecutive wins within the UFC. This one makes a ton of sense, from any angle.