‘Chaos’ threw a record number of strikes at Lawler. He only landed just over a third of those strikes, but it kept ‘Ruthless’ working. Covington also mixed in 18 takedown attempts, landing 10 and keeping Lawler guessing for the duration of the bout. That rendered the normally pressuring, powerful offense of Lawler ineffective in Newark.
Love him or hate him, most have given Covington credit for his effective gameplan in the pivotal bout. Michael Bisping was one of those people. During a recent episode of his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast (via MMA World), ‘The Count’ acknowledged as much. He also said Lawler could have done more despite the difficulty of doing so:
“And I was like, man, come on Robbie, throw something. ‘Cause Robbie’s an old-school guy, so I always cheer for those guys. But listen, I actually said to Callum, ‘It’s easier said than done.’ I’ve been in there with guys that try to take you down and it does prevent you from throwing shots – certainly when the person’s throwing back at you at a high volume rate.
“You have to defend those shots, you have to slip them, and then they’re shooting in for takedowns. You stress out about the takedown. Because that’s how he was losing the fight. He was taken down and controlled a lot. And he was trying to take his back as he got back to his feet and things like that.”
Easier Said Than Done
Bisping knows how it goes, however. He admitted it is easier said than done when an opponent is mixing up striking and wrestling so effectively:
“And it is easier said than done because I’ve been in there and I know for a fact it is. But still, you know, credit to Covington – fantastic, but I’m telling you now, he could have thrown more shots than he did. He kind of shelled up a little bit, he did.
“It became too obsessed with defending a takedown and ready to get an underhook, or whatever you call it. Whatever you want to do, whatever your chosen method of defending the takedown is, he was too busy or concerned with doing that than actually throwing shots.”
Giving Covington His Due
Ultimately, Lawler was put in a bad spot of having to finish the fight heading into the championship (or main event) rounds. Overall, ‘The Count’ couldn’t take away from Covington’s performance:
“In rounds four and five, the only way he was going to get a win was if he got a finish, so as I say, I’m sure Robbie’s frustrated. But I’m not taking away from Covington.”
Covington did put on arguably the best showing of his MMA career in the highest-profile spot. He should be headed for a bout with champion Kamaru Usman next, for which he’s already a significant underdog. As for Lawler, he’ll go back to the drawing board with a three-fight losing streak intact.
Should Lawler have brought a different gameplan to UFC Newark?