Colby Covington talked a big game in the lead-up to his UFC 225 interim welterweight title fight against Rafael dos Anjos, rubbing a lot of people the wrong way and becoming the most polarizing fighter in the sport along the way. But after seeing him dominate RDA to win the interim title, it’s hard not to be a believer in him now. Covington won a unanimous decision over the former lightweight champion RDA to win the interim welterweight title and set up a showdown against his arch-rival, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, later this year. Covington has promised to make the UFC welterweight division great again, and after seeing the improvements in his game against RDA, it’s hard not to believe him.
In what was a breakthrough performance by the new champ, Covington showed off his incredible cardio and conditioning in the fight against RDA as he was able to take the fight into deep waters and drown his opponent. Covington’s unrelenting pace and pressure were impossible for RDA to keep up with as the new champ was able to get key takedowns and press up RDA against the fence and keep working to kill off the clock and win rounds. Covington’s striking was also impressive in the fight, and overall it was just a very well-rounded performance by the new interim welterweight champ. When the scorecards were read at the end of 25 minutes, there was no question that Covington would get the nod, and more to an impressive 9-1 record in the UFC in the process.
The best thing about Covington winning the title is that he finally got Woodley talking about defending his belt again. Woodley hasn’t fought since last summer when he defeated Demian Maia at UFC 214 and has barely talked about fighting the top welterweight contenders in the year since. He’s mentioned potential superfights against Georges St-Pierre and Nate Diaz, but anytime someone brought up the top contenders like RDA or Covington, Woodley was quick to dismiss talks. It seems like Woodley is finally ready to come back and defend his belt against Covington. There were some who wondered why the UFC even made this an interim title fight, but now you see why, because now Woodley is forced to defend his belt or vacate it. And based on his tweet calling out Covington, it seems like he’s ready to finally put his belt back on the line against his biggest rival.
Based on what we have seen from Covington and his ability to improve from fight-to-fight, this looks like a guy who could potentially be the next Georges St-Pierre and dominate the welterweight division for a long time to come. Covington is 30 so he’s right smack-dab in his prime right now and he’s still getting better at MMA. We already know he has amazing wrestling but his striking is getting better and his cardio is a major factor as well. But above his fighting ability, Covington is a great promoter and knows how to sell a fight. He’s similar to another Oregon wrestler, Chael Sonnen, in that respect. It’s hard to sit here and compare Covington to all-time greats like GSP and Sonnen, but based on what we’ve seen and heard, Covington has the potential to be a really special fighter in the UFC. After seeing the way he beat RDA, doubting Covington at this point just seems wrong.
But before he can make a historic run as the welterweight champion, Covington first needs to win the title from Woodley. It seems like all the talking and calling the champ out has finally worked as Woodley seems to have awoken from his slumber and is ready to defend his belt against Covington. When these two meet it’s going to be one of the most-anticipated grudge matches of the year and even though it could potentially be a dull fight stylistically it’s still a fight that’s easy to get excited for. Like him or hate him, Covington is a terrific fighter and he showed that he is by the way he beat RDA. If he can go out there and do the same thing to Woodley, it won’t be long before we start talking about Covington as an all-time great in the welterweight division. Covington has promised to make welterweight great again, and so far he’s delivered on his promise.
How far can Colby Covington go ?