Two of the welterweight division’s biggest names collide in the UFC Newark main-event as Colby Covington takes on Robbie Lawler.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of fighters as popular as these guys who are known for two completely different reasons and in many ways, are sitting on completely opposite sides of the fan opinion spectrum.
Lawler, a legend of the sport at this point, remains one of the UFC’s most universally-loved fighters, a true late-bloomer who managed to completely subvert all expectation with his road from journeyman to pound-for-pound great.
As a winner of three consecutive Fight Of The Year awards, Robbie has certainly left more of himself inside that octagon than most and in truth, his recent run has seen him showing the signs of a man whose peak years are behind him.
Make no mistake, though, Lawler is still one ferocious fighter and in his last outing at UFC 235, he showed Ben Askren exactly how much power and aggression he still brings to the table.
In Colby Covington, we have a man who has slipped into his role as the promotional heel with a level of finesse that deserves a lot more credit than it gets.
With that being said, his knack for rubbing people up the wrong way should produce a pretty interesting crowd response once all is said and done tonight.
Colby seems to be willing to go all-in on this bit and considering his level of exposure these days, who can really blame him?
As a fighter, though, Colby is a relentless force of attrition in there, one who has managed to break down each of the top contenders who have stood in his way so far.
Against Lawler, who is, of course, known for his endurance and cardio, I do believe that the weaknesses in his striking will be a major issue.
Colby’s pressure is quite effective, for sure, but in Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia, he was able to apply that pressure knowing full well that neither man were really going to trouble him in the power department.
Maia, who is famously one-dimensional, had a surprising level of success on the feet against the rather stiff-looking striking efforts of Chaos when they faced off last year.
As good as Covington is, that is a cause for concern.
When your game is based on pressure and gritty wrestling, facing a guy who has the power and technical edge in the stand-up like Lawler could be a recipe for disaster early on.
Coupled with Robbie’s takedown defense, I really do think there’s a potential for an upset here.
The fight will last five-rounds and knowing how rigid Colby can be on the feet, I can honestly see Lawler having the tools to finish this fight at any point over the scheduled twenty-five minutes.
I don’t think this one is going to last long, folks!
Prediction: Robbie Lawler by first-round knockout
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena