The UFC returns this weekend with a brilliant event in Newark, New Jersey. The card is stacked, and the main event could be one of the best of the year inside the octagon. The welterweight battle will headline the card that has a lot of European interest in the prelims. However, while the UFC has thrown together an entertaining night of action, it is really the Colby Covington vs Robbie Lawler that fight fans are most excited for.
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Covington came into the UFC with raw ability, but the question of whether he has been able to realise that still remains up for debate. He was handed relatively simple bouts throughout his early years with the company, which allowed him to show off his wrestling talents that he had perfected during his time at Oregon State. However, while his performances have been good, there is still room for improvement both in the octagon and outside. The bout against Demian Maia ensured that he was a contender for the top prize in the division, and he showcased that there is more to his game than purely wrestling. He overcame Maia by using high-intensity speed and low-power pressure. It worked effectively, but after the fight, not content with beating Maia he went onto provoke a negative reaction from the Brazilian crowd after calling them filthy animals.
This win was followed with another success for the interim title against Rafael dos Anjos. However, injury has derailed his chance at a shot for the main title and upon his return, he has had to sit back and watch others challenge. Covington seems to have had enough of waiting, but the bout against Lawler is not something he should take lightly.
It has been a great road for Lawler that has led him back to the summit of UFC. He returned to the octagon in 2013 after an eight-year break. During his Strikeforce days, he was a revered fighter that dominated opponents such as Josh Koscheck and Rory MacDonald. After losing to Johnny Hendricks he thought that his chance of UFC gold was gone, but he quickly earned another rematch, which he subsequently won to start one of the greatest UFC title reigns in history. He put on entertaining performances throughout his run, but it was ended far too soon by Woodley. Since then there have been more lows than highs, but a recent win over Donald Cerrone could offer us a sign that ‘ruthless Robbie’ could be returning. Despite losing last time out, that has failed to stop his momentum, and a win over Covington could put him back in the title picture once again.
There is a huge risk in Covington deciding to opt for this fight as Lawler has all the skills to truly worry him. However, Lawler remains the 1.65 outsider with BetXChange to get the win, and for good reason. The fact that Covington’s style is to wear his opponent down will work effectively against Lawler, who always gets more tired than most at the latter end of fights since he exerts a lot of energy in the early exchanges. There is a chance that this could go the completely opposite way, but the preference is for Covington to win by decision.