The UFC’s return to New Jersey this summer appears to have its main event, and it’s one that probably will come as a surprise.
Former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington seemed to be ticketed for a title fight with champion Kamaru Usman. But instead, Covington (14-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) will fight former champ Robbie Lawler (28-13 MMA, 13-7 UFC) in the UFC on ESPN 5 main event, UFC president Dana White told the promotion’s broadcast partner, ESPN. UFC officials have not yet formally announced the fight.
UFC on ESPN 5 takes place Aug. 3 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The card airs on ESPN.
Usman reportedly will not be ready to go until late this year, which would keep Covington on the shelf for even longer than he already has been. He told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that the promotion needed a headliner on short notice, so he took it – and took some shots at Usman and upcoming UFC 239 fighter Ben Askren at the same time.
Covington has won six straight fights, but it’s been more than a year since he last was in the cage. In June 2018, at UFC 225, he beat former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos to win the interim welterweight title. That victory came on the heels of notable wins over Dong Hyun Kim and Demian Maia.
Covington appeared poised to fight then-champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 228 in October 2018, but surgery on his nose took him out of that fight. Woodley instead beat Darren Till in a title fight. But earlier this year, he lost the belt to Usman, who has a heated past with Covington.
Covington recently told MMA Junkie he thinks Usman is ducking a fight with him, though he didn’t mention the possibility he’d agree to fight anyone else for his next bout.
Lawler lost the welterweight title to Woodley at UFC 201 nearly three years ago. After a win over Donald Cerrone in July 2017, he lost a decision to dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 26. Then, after 15 months away, in part due to injury, he was submitted by Askren in March at UFC 235, giving him three losses in four fights.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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