Controversial welterweight contender Colby Covington has certainly made a name for himself over the last few years.
After adopting a Trump-supporting, MAGA hat-toting, persona and a few quick-witted soundbytes, Covington has developed from a talented, but unremarkable, contender to one of the most polarising figures in the game.
On Saturday night, the man known as “Chaos” faces former teammate and ex-welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC on ESPN 5 in Newark, New Jersey.
Lawler is coming into the bout a dangerous man. He looked to be on his way to victory against Ben Askren in his last fight before being caught in a bulldog choke, with referee Herb Dean stopping the fight with Lawler believing he was in no real trouble.
Now he’s back and looking to shut up trash-talking Covington, who is already in pole position to face reigning UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman when he returns from injury later this year.
Despite Lawler’s obvious motivation, Covington holds the aces heading into this one. His wrestling is in tip-top shape, his ability to deliver on the big stage is getting better with every fight and he looks every bit a legitimate title challenger. His last win, a five-round steamrollering of former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos, proved to any doubters that Covington is the real deal.
He’s the betting favourite to win Saturday night’s main event, and we like the 6/5 on him using his dominant wrestling skillset to take the win on the judges’ scorecards.
But if you’re feeling a bit more daring, the 6/1 on a Covington submission win looks tempting. Lawler has lost six times by submission, while Covington has five wins by that method from his 15 career wins. It’s definitely worth a cheeky side punt.
Veterans collide in the co-main
Clay Guida and Jim Miller are two old-school, spit-and-sawdust fighters who are guaranteed to put on a show for the fans this weekend.
The pair have competed in 97 professional bouts between them, and are both approaching the twilight of their respective careers.
Miller has the ability to finish, with his jiu-jitsu a constant threat on the mat, while Guida’s relentless pace – he looks like a bizarre cross between Kenny G and the Tasmanian Devil – always poses a boatload of problems for his opponents.
This one could go either way, with Guida’s likely route to victory coming via the scorecards (9/5), but we like the potential for Miller catching Guida in a submission (most likely a guillotine choke) during the wrestling and grappling exchanges. That’s a 13/5 shot, and that’s our pick.
Value on the prelims
There’s a hat-trick of value bets on the prelims to consider in addition to your main card selections.
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Hannah Goldy is as strong and athletic as they come, and the women’s strawweight prospect is the betting favourite to win her UFC debut. But Goldy is facing another dangerous debutant who hasn’t had the exposure Goldy has enjoyed – at least, not yet.
Miranda “Danger” Granger didn’t appear on the Contender Series, but instead extended her own unbeaten record by defending her Cage Fury Fighting Championship title to earn her UFC call-up.
Both women are unbeaten, but Granger has been finishing her opponents – all six of her career wins have come via submission, while four of Goldy’s five wins have come via the judges’ scorecards.
And that finishing ability means Granger looks an excellent value bet. She’s 11/8 to win the fight, but if you fancy her to continue her run of submission wins, you can jump on at the very tasty price of 4/1.
Also worth a peek is Czech starlet Lucie Pudilova, who is a 5/4 shot to upset Antonina Shevchenko on the scorecards. With her gritty, non-stop approach to fighting and her willingness to stand and trade with anyone – even Muay Thai ace Shevchenko – that one could be a sleeper for Fight of the Night honours, too.
* All odds correct at time of posting.