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UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Lawler staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Lawler fight card in Newark, New Jersey.

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The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for Saturday afternoon’s UFC Newark card, and there’s a slight edge towards Robbie Lawler to get the underdog win over Colby Covington in the main event. As for the co-main, everyone but Zane Simon backs Jim Miller to win in front of his home fans against Clay Guida.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler

Mookie Alexander: Okay, so if you want Phil’s reasoning for picking Covington then you’ll have to read Toe to Toe on Saturday morning. Otherwise this is going to look like we’re in the tank for Robbie Lawler when the picks themselves are fairly even. Covington really has the skills to beat Lawler 49-46 and then get on the microphone and unleash a speech that’ll have me reaching for the remote to turn off the TV. He’s undoubtedly tough and doesn’t usually have stupid strategy in the cage. If he imposes his wrestling and control early then Robbie really is in deep trouble. Otherwise, we saw how Lawler nearly KO’d Ben Askren in a half-minute, so he can turn aggression against his opponents just fine. In a range kickboxing battle it’s a no-contest, and while Covington has never showed signs of a bad chin, he’s not fought someone with Lawler’s power. Let’s do this! Robert Glenn Lawler by KO, round 3.

Zane Simon: The reality here is that Covington’s relative youth, pace, and dogged wrestling probably get the job done. It’s not like Lawler hasn’t struggled with wrestlers before, if for no other reason than that he just really seems to resent the idea that someone would want to wrestle instead of fist fighting. However, my heart just won’t let me pick against Robbie in this one. And, I’ve seen Covington struggle a lot more to control bigger, more physically gifted welterweights in the past (most notably Dong Hyun Kim). If Lawler gets the same few chances to back Covington up or sprawl him out, I think the damage he can do in those spaces is infinitely greater. His opportunities may be few, but I’m taking Lawler to make them count. Robbie Lawler via KO, round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: When even Covington himself gives Robbie props for his defensive wrestling, you know he’s going to try his best to be careful here. He’s got amazing cardio, can smother opponents with volume and pressure en route to working takedowns and can really be a problem when he’s got someone against the fence. This is still Robert Violence Lawler he’s up against. Aside from dynamite striking, he’s handled himself well defending against stronger wrestlers like Johny Hendricks. Also, if Demian Maia can find that chin, so can Rob. That’s where I’d put my money. Robert Glenn Lawler via Shang Tsung Soul Stealing.

Staff pick Covington: Nick, Phil, Dayne
Staff picking Lawler: Ed, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor

Jim Miller vs. Clay Guida

Mookie Alexander: Can’t believe these two have never fought each other. Cardio advantage goes to Guida but I don’t know if this is stylistically favorable, and indeed if it’s ever been stylistically favorable for Clay. Miller is a better striker (not saying much, but he’s a good striker), has slick submissions, and I think he has the scrambling abilities and takedown defense to prevent Guida from smothering him. The big question is what happens if Miller does start to fade, in which case he better hope he’s built up a 2-0 lead on the scorecards before that happens. Jim Miller by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: On the one hand, Miller has definitely shown a vulnerability to getting outpaced in recent years, and despite some durability issues Guida is still Guida: tireless, busy, sort of effective. On the other hand, Miller is a much more offensively dangerous fighter and while he’s lately been fighting bigger, taller men who can exploit the fact that he’s only really comfortable in the pocket, I think his knees, hooks ‘n’ uppers striking style plays well with the stockier Guida’s level changes. Guida could either wear him out, or conceivably replicate his dreadful strategy from the Maynard fight, but Jim Miller by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Man, this is a tough fight to pick. Miller’s cardio has seemed faded in recent years, and it’s hard to know just how much of that is down to Lyme Disease, and how much is the wear and tear of a long action-fight career. He’s definitely a sharper striker than Guida, so if he can fight off Guida’s pressure consistently, he can almost certainly out-box him. Mostly it’s just hard to tell where he’s at, because he’s been losing to very very high level opponents and absolutely shitkicking low level ones. While Guida has just been kind of trucking along against a middle level of competition, and losing when he faces the elite. I think I’m gonna take Guida for his pace and ability to wear on Miller. I don’t trust Miller to club-n-sub him early. But, that may just be exactly what happens. Clay Guida by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Guida can stay busier with more movement and pure volume striking, not that different from what I said above about Colby Covington. Miller won’t let himself be bullied and can fight his way out of clinches and work submissions or at least use sweep attempts to get out of bad spots. I still trust the guy that has more powerful offense. Jim Miller by decision.

Staff picking Miller: Ed, Nick, Phil, Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Guida: Zane

Joaquim Silva vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Mookie Alexander: This fight should rule. Haqparast likes to throw down and is consistent with his aggression, almost to a fault. This could be how he gets clocked by someone with the power of Neto BJJ. That said, I think he does have more firepower than Silva and the Gastelum lookalike will get another W. Nasrat Haqparast by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This should be an absolute banger. Both men are superlative athletes with a huge amount of confidence in their own power and toughness. I do, as usual, like Haqparast in this one: he starts very quickly and imposes his game quickly, where Neto BJJ tends to have to work his way into a fight, and Haqparast doesn’t easily let opponents off the hook. Notes of concern for Haqparastelum: he can get a bit monotonous with the left hand, and Silva is a more diverse puncher, with a particular knack for working the body in combination. Silva is also almost certainly the biggest puncher the German has fought, and his fearlessness could get him in trouble. That being said, Nasrat Haqparast by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Silva is a problem for just about anyone that wants to go out and put a serious pace on their opponents. Not because he can necessarily match it, but just because throwing lots of volume means giving opponents lots of chances to return fire. And Silva can launch some ultra-violent return fire. Haqparast’s toughness, wrestling, and extremely busy, fast striking likely sees him to a win. But if he gets sloppy, or just doesn’t respect Silva enough, Silva could absolutely find him with a huge bomb at some point and flip this fight on its head. Nasrat Haqparast via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I can’t remember who I picked on Level Change this week. I think it was Haqparast? I just know it’s going to be fun as hell. Nasrat Haqparast by decision.

Staff picking Silva: Ed
Staff picking Haqparast: Nick, Phil, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor

Trevin Giles vs. Gerald Meerschaert

Mookie Alexander: Giles pissed away the Zak Cummings fight. Hopefully he learned his lesson and doesn’t do the same thing against someone who will be even more eager to grapple and sub hunt. I honestly don’t know what this is doing on the main card, though. Trevin Giles by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Meerschaert was somewhat unfortunate on the cards the last time out, while Giles was picked off late by Zak Cummings. Giles is the better athlete, but a little shallow in his approach, whereas Meerschaert is bigger and more diverse, but also more unstable in his kill-or-die philosophy. Meerschaert won’t be able to take Giles down, and his trademark body kick won’t be available in a closed stance match between southpaws, so I think the match actually favours Giles just getting in and bombing on Meerschaert with jabs and one-twos. Trevin Giles by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Most likely Giles’ raw speed and constant jab and lunging cross are enough to get it done here. But, I’m not THAT confident in Giles’ defense against a well timed bodylock takedown. And his ridiculously relaxed defense has already cost him at least once. Add to that that Meerschart is a great prospect spoiler and has only been stopped by strikes once, and there’s a solid chance that Giles picks up his second straight loss to a savvy vet. Still, Cummings is a much more dangerous striker with better hands. And Giles was winning that bout before getting cracked. Trevin Giles via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I love Gerald, but I can’t trust him due to passivity and reliance on his guard game leaving him at a deficit on the scorecards. Trevin Giles by decision.

Staff picking Giles: Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Meerschaert: Ed, Nick, Dayne

Scott Holtzman vs. Dong Hyun Ma

Mookie Alexander: Feels like we’ve seen DHM’s ceiling, and he’s not gotten noticeably better since that war with Marco Polo Reyes. Scott Holtzman by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I think the UFC brass quite like Ma, in that since his debut against Steele they’ve basically only matched him up against comparably sized punchers. That seems to end here, as Holtzman has become increasingly comfortable at outwrestling opponents, and Ma has been on the wrong side of clear physicality discrepancies against some not-particularly-physical opponents. Even if he can clock Holtzman, Hot Sauce is huge and incredibly tough, and Maestro has been surprisingly... boring? since that early debut. This could be a rough watch. Scott Holtzman by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: DHM has, unfortunately, taken a lot of the wrong lessons out of his early UFC wars. Notably, after realizing that his lack of defense gets him in a lot of trouble, he’s solved the problem by dropping his output and becoming an all-the-way-in or all-the-way-out neutralizer. It’s exactly the kind of style that let a raw power striker like Devonte Smith slowly get his timing and absolutely crush him. Holtzman is at his best in open space when opponents let him lead. This seems like just the right fight to show that. Scott Holtzman by decision.

Staff picking Holtzman: Ed, Nick, Phil, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Ma:

Darko Stosic vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu

Mookie Alexander: Hey, did you know famous NBA draft bust Darko Milicic did kickboxing? Anyway, this Darko is actually good. Darko Stosic by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Urrrgh. Nzechukwu looked like an absolute bust in his last fight: it wasn’t that he got tapped at the last moment by Paul Craig (that happens to everyone), but that it was so unutterably awful beforehand. Either he had no idea how to leverage his physicality, or he’s simply another fighter who looked like a force before they hit the UFC wall. Stosic at least had a functional fight with a decent athlete in Devin Clark, and showed at least some aggression and wrestling ability. Maybe he gets picked off, but like the above I am not optimistic about being this being at all watchable. Darko Stosic by split decision.

Zane Simon: Nzechukwu pushes a better pace and uses a lot more tools than Stosic, but his fundamentals are a lot less... fundamental. Stosic may only throw one bomb every minute, but it’s an accurate, powerful one, almost every time. Nzechukwu’s tendency to push himself out of kickboxing range into the clinch with combos is probably just exactly the kind of thing to put his chin right on the end of a few of those bombs. Darko Stosic via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Stosic: Ed, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Nzechukwu: Nick, Dayne, Victor

Mickey Gall vs. Salim Touahri

Phil Mackenzie: Speaking of busts, Mickey Gall finds himself in a tough spot after calling out a faded name veteran who proceeded to beat the tar out of him. Despite being a touted prospect a few years back, Gall still looks raw and honestly like he hasn’t improved all that much, and what we basically have is a good-not-great opportunistic sub grappler with mediocre striking and offensive wrestling, and a decent amount of basic toughness. Touahri is a big puncher. He doesn’t have much wrestling defense, but he pops back up pretty well, so this fight seems made to answer the cardio question which Gall failed last time out: can he keep a pace? Mickey Gall by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Gall absolutely could have the raw aggression to just bull forward, get Touahri down, and sub him. But if he doesn’t, I’m not at all confident he has the cardio or fight management to win a decision. Touahri isn’t an exciting fighter anywhere, but against some much more experienced and more athletic veteran competition, he did well to stay composed and at least stay in the fight. Gall hasn’t really shown that. Salim Touahri by decision.

Staff picking Gall: Phil
Staff picking Touahri: Ed, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Victor

Antonina Shevchenko vs. Lucie Pudilova

Zane Simon: I love the improvement that Pudilova has continually showed in her technical striking. But she has a huge gulf to cover before she gets to the level of footwork and technique that Shevchenko possesses. Without any consistent ability to change the range or type of fight, I just don’t see Pudilova catching up to someone with better footwork and cleaner combinations. But Shevchenko isn’t that great at going backwards and Pudilova ONLY pushes forwards. So the dynamic definitely could get hairy if Shevchenko can’t cut her angles out of the pocket. Antonina Shevchenko by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Without Roxy’s takedowns, Pudilova has to make up the technical difference against Shevchenko with punching, punching and more punching. That Shevchenko struggled physically with Modafferi at all is something of a concern. On paper this seems like a match made for Shevchenko to win, but honestly the Modafferi fight seemed like that as well. Antonina Shevchenko by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I’m not sure Pudilová can disrupt Antonina the way Roxy did, and I doubt that she’ll be able to close the space without eating more damage than necessary on the way in. She’s tough as hell, though. She might Homer Simpson her way through a lot to make it worth it by the end by outlanding Antonina and smothering her against the cage. But this should be a matchup that lets Antonina’s skillset shine as I suspect Lucie will try to shoot it up standing. Antonina Shevchenko by decision.

Staff picking Shevchenko: Nick, Dayne, Zane, Phil, Victor
Staff picking Pudilova: Ed, Mookie, Stephie

Jordan Espinosa vs. Matt Schnell

Phil Mackenzie: Espinosa conceivably fits into the same aggressive puncher type that has been able to get to Schnell in the past, but I do genuinely like what I’ve seen from Schnell of late. The Inoue fight seemed like a turning point for his rangy out-boxing style, and I think Espinosa isn’t enough of a step up from Inoue to be able to turn that particular style matchup around. Matt Schnell by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I just think Espinosa is too fast and tough for Schnell. Schnell seems unfortunately caught in the position of being a big and not particularly athletic flyweight, who is still just a bit too willowy to compete in the increasingly powerful bantamweight division. That’s going to put him in a lot of tough spots at 125, where everyone is likely to be faster than he is. Jordan Espinosa via TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Espinosa: Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Schnell: Ed, Phil

Lauren Murphy vs. Mara Romero Borella

Phil Mackenzie: Borella is powerful but achingly low pace. Hopefully Murphy can draw her into an actual fight, but whether she does or not, Borella is simply bigger and stronger and will be looking to grind her to dust. Mara Romero Borella by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: If Murphy steps on the gas, maintains the pocket, and keeps Borella backing up, she absolutely has the volume and competitive muscle to win this fight. But, so often Murphy seems caught between what she wants to do and what she thinks she should do. There’s a lot of relative unwillingness to pull the trigger standing, and it can take her multiple rounds to get her wrestling game engaged offensively. By comparison, Borella may be a defensively minded neutralizer, but she knows that, and is always looking to do it. I’ll take the fighter who seems more confident in the style they’re working with. Mara Romero Borella by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I love Murphy, but Romero’s got the ability to mix things up and to keep clinching opponents off her unless it’s on her terms. Romero’s quick to attack the body, and her pace should make the judges happy. Mara Romero Borella by decision.

Staff picking Murphy: Dayne, Mookie
Staff picking Borella: Ed, Nick, Phil, Zane, Stephie, Victor

Claudio Silva vs. Cole Williams

Phil Mackenzie: Cole Williams is a can crusher who has been given the unfortunate task of fighting welterweight’s own version of Leonardo Santos: a super infrequent vet who nonetheless has an incredibly impressive resume. Silva is essentially the functional welterweight version of Oleksiy Oleinik: a big terrifying golem who is going to sub you no matter what. That’ll prolly happen here. Claudio Silva by submission, round 1.

Zane Simon: Even if it weren’t a short notice debut, this would just be a terrible fight for Williams, who largely seems to have gotten by on instilling fear in opponents and then bullying them physically. Silva is a man who can’t be bullied. He’s Darren Elkins with a wicked sub game, or Oleinik with functional knees. A big, strong crazy man who will chase you and throw strikes just so that any limb of his might touch a part of you, and initiate his suffocating grappling game. A challenge even for the best opponents. Claudio Silva by submission, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: Oh, goody! The fabled BE curse! Claudio Silva by whatever.

Staff picking Silva: Ed, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Phil, Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Williams:

Miranda Granger vs. Hannah Goldy

Phil Mackenzie: Take all fights between 4-0 and 2-0 fighters with the appropriate grain of salt. Goldy seems like a more functional wrestler and Granger looks to be something of an opportunistic regional sub grappler. Hannah Goldy by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Granger looks athletically unremarkable, but willfully aggressive. Goldy is a tank, but tends to fight off her back foot and try to draw opponents into counters. Chances are, Goldy is just too bricked up for Granger to control, but if Goldy consents to grapple, or gets taken down too easily, Granger’s sub hunting game just might pick her off. Hannah Goldy by decision.

Staff picking Granger: Nick
Staff picking Goldy: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor

Poll

Who will win the UFC Newark main event?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Covington by stoppage
    (42 votes)
  • 56%
    Lawler by stoppage
    (317 votes)
  • 32%
    Covington by decision
    (180 votes)
  • 3%
    Lawler by decision
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    Draw/NC/DQ
    (3 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now