Class fighter, crass side-show.
Colby Covington handed ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler his third consecutive fight [an unfortunate first in his 43-fight career] and effectively sealed his title shot against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in the process.
The American attempted a UFC record of 533 strikes over five relentless rounds, took Lawler to the ground on 10 occasions [from 18 take-down attempts] and was the unanimous winner on all three judges’ scorecards.
Lawler, a former welterweight champion, found himself 3-0 down after three rounds and tried to walk Covington down in the final stanzas only to be picked off with ease.
The impressive Covington victory sees him move to seven straight victories and drew strong reactions from the MMA community:
I want to apologize for losing bc now all of you have to listen to Marty and Colby talk to each other. It will be damn near unbearable.
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) August 3, 2019
Robbie just let the whole world down ?
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 3, 2019
Covington demanded that his interim welterweight belt, which he was stripped of last year, be placed over his shoulder before and after his fight. Calling himself ‘The People’s Champion’ and wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ red cap, the 31-year-old claimed President Donald Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., came to the Newark event just to see him.
While Lawler was nothing but gracious in defeat, Covington used his victory speech to make a disgraceful comment regarding former UFC star, and friend of Lawler, Matt Hughes. He declared:
“Let’s talk about the lesson we learned tonight. It’s a strong lesson that Robbie should have learned from his good buddy Matt Hughes – you stay off the tracks when the train is coming through, junior!
“Don’t matter if this is the Trump Train or the Colby Train, get out of the way!”
Hughes, another former welterweight champion, was in a vehicle that was struck by a train in a near-fatal crash, in 2017. He was left with brain damage after the crash but pulled through after almost a month in a coma.
Colby Covington with a statement win against Robbie Lawler! ?
"Don't matter if this is the Trump Train or the Colby Train, get out of the way!"
His post-fight interview almost as good as his performance! ? pic.twitter.com/xsyW4PeK1D
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) August 3, 2019
Hughes responded to Covington’s grim comments with a measured Instagram post. He stated, ‘Not sure if Colby Covington should have used my accident as fuel for his post-fight trash talk, but that was one heck of a fight. Reminder though, this is the fighting world. People talk trash and you gotta have thick skin.’
Covington then moved on to Usman and the pair put on a painful ‘He said, he said’ exchange during a post-fight ESPN interview:
UFC Post-Fight Show:
Colby: Let's do it right now.
Usman: Let's do it.
Colby: Let's go.
Usman: I'm ready right now.
Colby: Let's go then.
Usman: Let's do it tonight.
Colby: Bring it on then.
Usman: I'm standing right here.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 3, 2019
Ben Askren owes us all another apology.
The victory for Covington does leave Jorge Masvidal – the other contender for Usman’s belt – looking for another fight to keep him going. Masvidal declared, after knocking out Darren Till and Askren, that he wanted a title shot or a meeting with Conor McGregor. It may have to be the latter now.