NEWARK, N.J. — The self-proclaimed “Great American Winning Machine” is up, running and just as loud as ever.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship interim welterweight champion Colby Covington earned a unanimous decision victory Saturday in his first fight in nearly 14 months, defeating former champion Robbie Lawler with a dominant performance to cement his place among the division’s top contenders at UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center.
Covington, who built a bombastic persona as the UFC’s top agitator in recent years, was met mostly with negativity from the crowd in his return to the cage. A vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and a visitor to the White House with his UFC belt, Covington was supported cageside by two of the president’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, who received their own mixed reactions from fans in attendance.
“I was truly inspired when the first family came backstage to see me before the fight,” Covington said in his in-cage interview.
Then, before calling out champion Kamaru Usman for a welterweight title shot, Covington’s controversial character came out as he took a jab at Lawler and his longtime teammate Matt Hughes, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a train crash in 2017.
“Let’s talk about the lesson we learned tonight,” Covington said. “It’s a strong lesson that Robbie should have learned from his good buddy Matt Hughes — you stay off the tracks when a train’s coming, junior, doesn’t matter if it’s a Trump train or a Colby train, get out the way.”
Covington controlled the fight from start to finish, utilizing a strong takedown game and impressive striking output to keep Lawler at bay.
In the opening seconds, Covington came out wild, looking for a big shot to change the fight, but Lawler was measured. Before long, Covington looked for a takedown against the fence, eventually tripping Lawler to the ground and looking for submissions.
Lawler didn’t get much time to strike before another Covington takedown early in the second. When he was on his feet, Lawler didn’t offer much offensively, dodging and ducking more than throwing his own strikes.
After a few takedown attempts in the third round, Covington appeared to slow down. Lawler began to throw strikes with more consistency and Covington was unable to bring him to the ground. In the fifth round, Covington wasn’t quite as aggressive early, allowing Lawler to control the center of the cage. A Lawler punch seemed to land harder then Covington expected it, and with two minutes left in the round, Lawler sent Covington stumbling with big punch near the cage. Covington did his best to keep away from Lawler in the final minutes, circling the cage and evading most of Lawler’s strikes. In the final seconds, Covington’s antagonistic tactics returned as he stuck out his tongue at Lawler as the final horn sounded.
Miller stuns Guida
Jim Miller and Clay Guida spent 11 years in the UFC weaving their way through the promotion’s roster, never crossing paths.
They spent just 58 seconds together when they finally met in the octagon in the co-main event.
New Jersey native Miller sent the hometown crowd into a frenzy with a submission victory, stunning Guida in less than a minute to end a short but action-packed bout.
Guida shocked Miller early in the first round, but didn’t put him down. Miller followed with a stunning shot of his own, then grabbed Guida’s neck, pulled guard, secured a guillotine choke and squeezed tight.
The right arm of Guida soon went limp and the referee peeled Miller off an unconscious Guida, who crumbled into a ball as Miller celebrated the technical submission victory.
Miller (31-13, 1 no contest) added to his record for most bouts in UFC history with his 33rd overall. He also tied Joe Lauzon for the UFC lightweight record for most finishes with 12.