To the disappointment of many, Colby Covington is in fact a damn good fighter and he showed it against Robbie Lawler.
Covington secured the next UFC welterweight title shot with a comprehensive decision victory over the former champion, winning a shutout decision on all three scorecards. He wrestled Lawler heavily early, kept the pressure on as we’ve seen him to do so many opponents, and while his striking may not set the world on fire it is damn persistent. It’s just a bunch of offense that, combined with his seemingly endless gas tank, make him elite. Yes, his personality is extremely obnoxious — and of course he made a tasteless joke of Matt Hughes’ near-fatal train collision — but he’s earned his spot as the top contender. Lawler had three rounds of mostly kickboxing and still lost those rounds, as he couldn’t cope with Colby’s pace, looked quite hesitant, and was often left wanting for answers.
So now we have Covington going against Kamaru Usman next. That is quite conceivably going to be the worst bit of trash talk we’ll ever witness for a UFC title fight. There may even be a substantial political tone that makes proceedings extra ugly. President Donald Trump tweeted in Covington’s support prior to Saturday’s headliner, and his sons Donald Jr and Eric were indeed in attendance. I don’t even want to think about what could transpire from now until Colby and Usman do meet in the Octagon. If only we could block all of that out and focus just on the actual fight.
More thoughts on UFC Newark:
- Lawler has lost four of five and not to totally discredit Covington, but there were some things about Robbie that just felt a bit off. I don’t know how much more he has left to give in the sport, but I sure as hell don’t want it to end on that note. Take him far away from title contender bouts and into fights guaranteed to deliver the type of fun Robbie Lawler action we’ve loved for almost two decades. I know I picked Lawler more on hope than reason, because this has historically been a stylistically bad matchup for him, but this one just felt extra sad as he wasn’t ever in this fight.
- DAMN! Jim Miller had the place rocking thanks to an exhilarating but short battle with Clay Guida. First it was Guida who had Miller rocked, then Miller hurt Guida just seconds later and turned that into an opportunistic guillotine choke. Guida went limp, with Herb Dean stopping it after the third check of Clay’s arm. Evidently it takes choking him unconscious to make Guida stop moving around the cage like a maniac after a fight. Miller has won three of his last four and as a big Jim Miller fan, I couldn’t be happier that he got this W in his home state.
- Nasrat Haqparast is more than just a Kelvin Gastelum lookalike, he’s a legitimate prospect. The Tristar lightweight wiped out Joaquim Silva with a beautiful left hand early in round two, and he pounced on him for the KO finish. That’s three straight wins, his first UFC KO, and that power is something future opponents need to be very weary of.
- Gerald Meerschaert and Trevin Giles engaged in some truly terrible middleweight MMA, but then Meerschaert finally punished Giles for all of his ridiculous willingness to grapple, choking him out cold in the final round. Giles tapped multiple times but Herb Dean missed it, so it’s a tech sub. That’s twice now that Giles has lost in the last round, and this was just uniquely tedious.
- Scott Holtzman and Dong Hyun Ma went to war, knocked each other down, but Holtzman was the one who was largely dominant. Ma’s left eye was totally done after ten brutal minutes, he admitted he couldn’t see, and that was the end of things. Holtzman has quietly won four of his last five in the unforgiving lightweight division.
- Someone tell Dominick Cruz that there have been deaths in MMA, even as “extremely safe” as the sport is relative to boxing. Oh yes, and they do stop fights in other combat sports when eyes are swollen shut.
- I didn’t realize Darko Stosic vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu was moved to the prelims. It’s a good thing that happened because I didn’t have to type play-by-play for that. Nzechukwu is likely without functioning testicles after Stosic repeatedly kicked seven shades of shit out of them. Stosic lost two points as well as the fight, and I really don’t need to relive that mess again.
- It was an improved performance from Mickey Gall to notch a decision win over Salim Touahri. This was a close fight and both men were gassed by round three, but Gall was a clear-cut winner, and Touahri will surely regret some of his decision-making and low output.
- Antonina Shevchenko and Lucie Pudilova had a hell of a fight. The elder sister of UFC women’s flyweight champ Valentina was cut up by Pudilova’s elbows in round one, then nearly armbarred Pudilova, only for the Czech to escape. There would be no escaping Antonina’s wicked rear-naked choke in round two, as Pudilova was out cold. That’s the first submission of Antonina’s career and ideally the start of a strong month for the Shevchenko sisters.
- Matt Schnell’s ground game is super dangerous. He had Jordan Espinosa in a guillotine, then switched to a triangle choke, and the fight was over in just 83 seconds. Shades of the Louis Smolka contest. Schnell has won four straight and is a legitimate contender in this seemingly not completely dead men’s flyweight division.
- Flyweight Lauren Murphy picked up a huge win over Mara Romero Borella, knocking the Italian out with a knee (plus ground-and-pound) off of a failed takedown. The fight itself wasn’t particularly good to watch, but take nothing away from Murphy’s second career UFC finish.
- Brazilian welterweight Claudio Silva was the largest favorite of the entire event, and he predictably ran through the overweight late replacement Cole Williams, winning by neck crank in 2:35. He’s 5-0 in the UFC but has missed so much time due to injury, so hopefully he continues his recently active schedule and gets matched up with better competition.
- In a hastily cobbled together fight to fill card space, Miranda Granger outstruck Hannah Goldy for a unanimous decision win. Both of these women compete at strawweight, but the short notice nature of the bout made them contest this at flyweight.