August 1, 2019

UFC on ESPN 5: Colby Covington Can Steal Back Welterweight Title Shot At UFC Newark

By Adam Martin

When Jorge Masvidal knocked out Ben Askren with a flying knee in just five seconds back at UFC 239, many felt he became the #1 contender in the UFC welterweight division. Not so, says Colby Covington, who takes on Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC on ESPN 5 this Saturday. With a win, Covington expects to be matched up against UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, and rightly so.

Before Masvidal stole the show last month, Covington was the assumed top contender. He had won the interim belt last year at UFC 225 with a win over Rafael dos Anjos to move to 9-1 overall inside the Octagon, but was later stripped of the interim belt due to his injury-related layoff. But Covington kept pressuring the UFC to get a crack at the champion, and after surprising UFC President Dana White at a Las Vegas casino by demanding a title shot (and capturing the encounter on video), White told Covington he would get the next title shot.


But still, there was some uncertainty after Masvidal knocked out Darren Till and Askren in devastating fashion in back-to-back fights. We all know the UFC favors finishes over decisions, so Masvidal's flashy style of finishing fights is preferable to the grinding nature of most of Covington's wins. At the same time, White said that Covington stepped up when the UFC was in desperate need of a headliner for this ESPN card. Taking this fight against Lawler on somewhat short notice might have been be the move Covington needed to finally get the UFC on his side when it comes to getting a title shot.

Of course, Covington has to actually step into the Octagon and beat Lawler, and that's not going to be a walk in the park. Although Lawler is on the downside of his career and taking a two-fight losing skid into this matchup, we saw in the Askren fight how dangerous he can still be. Lawler is also a former training partner of Covington's, which makes the matchup even more intriguing. Covington, as the younger fighter and the one riding a win streak, is the favorite heading into the fight, but you would be foolish to completely discount Lawler's chances.


Should Colby Covington emerge victorious, however, it seems very likely that he will steal back for good the title shot that has alluded him this entire year. Instead of fighting Tyron Woodley for the belt, Covington had to watch Usman get the title shot and win the championship. He has been waiting a long time to fight for the title, and he's still waiting. And although there's no guarantee that Covington will get the title shot over Masvidal -- nothing is guaranteed in this sport -- he can certainly help his chances with a big win over Robbie Lawler.

UFC on ESPN 5
Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler

UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs. Lawler takes place August 3, 2019 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN 5 Pre-Fight Analysis


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