UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs. Lawler Preview

UFC will ditch their usual start time on Saturday when UFC Newark takes place. With prelims starting at Noon Eastern Time and the main card three hours after, the sun will not go down before all winning arms are raised in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Along with 11 other fighters, ranked Welterweights Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler will face off in the main event of the card which will air on ESPN. Let’s look at the card from start to finish.

Bout 1: Hannah Goldy (5-0) vs. Miranda Granger (6-0) (Flyweight)

The night will kick off with a bout with high stakes involved. Both in their UFC debut, Hannah Goldy and Miranda Granger will put up their undefeated streaks. Goldy fought three times before being scouted on the ongoing season of the Tuesday Night Contender Series, earning her contract. Granger didn’t come through UFC’s star-finding show but recently fought in CFFC, a promotion which broadcasts on UFC Fight Pass. In her professional career, Granger has never gone into the final round, with numerous submission victories.

Bout 2: Claudio Silva (13-1) vs. Cole Williams (11-1) (Welterweight)

Heading into his fifth UFC fight, Claudio Silva has seen success so far, racking up four straight wins. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for his slip up in his pro debut, Silva would still be an undefeated fighter. But, most people eventually lose the big O on their record. He will be stacked up against Cole Williams, who similarily, has only taken one pro loss early in his campaign. Williams established himself in Iowa, fighting frequently in the Pinnacle Combat promotion. It was reported a few weeks back that Williams would replace Ramazan Emeev on this card after visa issues stopped the original pairing. On Friday, Williams failed to make weight, weighing 176 pounds over the 170 limit.

Bout 3: Mara Romero Borella (12-5) vs. Lauren Murphy (10-4) (Flyweight)

In the second flyweight matchup of the afternoon, Mara Romero Borella and Lauren Murphy will battle each other. Borella holds a 2-1 record within the UFC, while Murphy has had a less lucky 2-4 record (with an exhibition loss against Nicco Montano on The Ultimate Fighter). Murphy was pulled out of a fight against Ashlee Evans-Smith earlier in 2018 after she suffered an injury. Nearly six months later, Murphy will see her first matchup in 14 months.

Bout 4: Matt Schnell (13-4) vs. Jordan Espinosa (14-5) (Flyweight)

In another flyweight bout, two fighters on a hot-streak will collide. Matt Schnell, who is on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC, will face Jordan Espinosa, who has won five times in a row including one UFC victory. Schnell turned around his unsuccessful UFC career, not winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 24, and taking two pro losses. Since then, he has gotten three wins over Marco Antonio Beltran, Naoki Inoue and Louis Smolka. Espinosa is on a longer win streak, however, most of them have come outside of the UFC. Winning twice in 2017 and in 2018, Espinosa came in hot in his UFC debut, getting a decision victory over Eric Shelton. Someone’s momentum may come to a halt on Saturday.

Bout 5: Antonina Shevchenko (7-1) vs. Lucie Pudilova (8-4) (Flyweight)

In the Shevchenko family, it’s “Bullet” Valentina Shevchenko who is more well known. While this is the case, nowadays chances are that people might be talking about Antonina Shevchenko as well. Debuting in the UFC in late 2018, Shevchenko has defeated Ji Yeon Kim and lost to Roxanne Modafferi, handing “The Panther” her first pro loss. She will face Lucie Pudilova on Saturday, who is on a two-fight losing streak, albeit against formidable opponents in Irene Aldana (bantamweight bout) and Liz Carmouche. Pudilova has had a longer stint within the UFC, debuting in 2017 and having an overall 2-3 record.

Bout 6: Mickey Gall (5-2) vs. Salim Touahri (10-3) (Welterweight)

While young in his career, Mickey Gall is a name that most MMA fans will remember. His decisive win over former WWE wrestler CM Punk back in 2016 put many eyes on the then 24-year-old MMA fighter with a 2-0 record prior to the competition. He has since fought four more times, overall having a 4-2 record within the promotion. His recent loss came against UFC veteran Diego Sanchez, who got his first stoppage win in over a decade. In his next fight, Gall will be replacing Zelim Imadaev due to injury. Like some of his recent fights, Gall will be facing a more experienced fighter in Salim Touahri on Saturday. Touahri will attempt to snap his two-fight losing streak, which has been in place since his UFC debut.

Bout 7: Darko Stosic (13-2) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (6-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Starting off the main card, the show will have it’s heaviest bout on the card. Darko Stosic and Kennedy Nzechukwu will compete in a Light Heavyweight bout, as the broadcast flips to ESPN at 3 PM Eastern Time. Stosic and Nzechukwu haven’t started their UFC career in the way they necessarily wanted, with Stosic having a 1-1 record and Nzechukwu holding a 0-1 record. Although, one will likely see success on Saturday, turning the tide for their career.

Bout 8: Scott Holtzman (12-3) vs. Dong Hyun Ma (16-9-3) (Lightweight)

In the first of three lightweight bouts of the afternoon, two experienced UFC fighters in Scott Holtzman and “Maestro” Dong Hyun Ma will compete. Holtzman has fought eight times before in the UFC, currently with a 5-3 record in the promotion. Hyun Ma has fought six times, with an even record of 3-3. They have both lost recently, breaking their three-fight win streaks before. If Hyun Ma were to win on Saturday, it would be a real indictment for the UFC to not book him on the UFC Fight Night in Busan, South Korea set for December 21, 2019. Dong Hyun Ma weighed in at 158, going three pounds above the lightweight limit.

Bout 9: Gerald Meerschaert (29-11) vs. Trevin Giles (11-1) (Middleweight)

Gerald Meerschaert and Trevin Giles will compete in the next bout. The experience differential is large, with Giles having the same number of wins as Meerschaert has losses. Giles took his first pro loss in May, losing to Zak Cummings in his third UFC bout. Meerschaert is on a two-fight losing streak, making his current record in the UFC 4-3.

Bout 10: Joaquim Silva (11-1) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (10-2) (Lightweight)

Joaquim Silva and Nasrat Haqparast have the same amount of MMA bouts each, but a win for Haqparast on Saturday will make their wins and losses equal. Heading into his fourth UFC bout, Haqparast is 2-1 in the UFC, coming back after an eight-month layoff, defeating Thibault Gouti in a 2018 bout. Joaquim Silva is also coming back after a similar time of absence, beating Jared Gordon in December. Silva currently has a 4-1 record in the UFC.

Bout 11: Clay Guida (35-18) vs. Jim Miller (30-13) (Lightweight)

In the co-main event will be a battle between two very experienced UFC fighters. Clay Guida and Jim Miller have fought in the UFC since 2006 and 2008 respectively, making them some of the longest standing active UFC fighters. Both fighters have won already in 2019. Miller had a quick first-round rear naked choke win over Jason Gonzalez in April. Guida fought fellow veteran BJ Penn for three rounds in May, taking all three scorecards to get his victory.

Bout 12: Colby Covington (14-1) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-13) (Welterweight)

Back in June of 2018, Colby Covington seemingly sealed his fate as the next in line for a UFC Welterweight title shot, defeating Rafael dos Anjos and becoming the interim champion. That was the plan at least, until a nasal injury sidelined him from a bout, and also took away his expected title shot. He now finds himself scheduled to face fellow ranked fighter Robbie Lawler in a main event, but no belts are involved.

Robbie Lawler attempted to spoil Ben Askren’s UFC debut in March, but lost in a controversial stoppage due to a bulldog choke. Before then, he lost to Rafael dos Anjos in a decision. Before he beat Donald Cerrone in 2017, his last win, he lost in just over two minutes to Tyron Woodley, former Welterweight Champion. Whilst a much more experienced UFC fighter than Covington, he’s lost to people Covington has beat, and more importantly, has been losing much more lately.

Colby Covington’s personality, specifically online, has made him a polarizing figure. Through his Instagram videos and sponsored content, he often flaunts his lifestyle and mocks his viewers with terms like “snowflakes” and “nerds.” Despite his stripping of the interim belt, Covington has continued to carry a championship in his photos and videos.

Covington has also never been afraid to share his political values, being a vocal endorser of current President of The United States Donald Trump. He often wears Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats in posts and visited the White House shortly after his Interim Championship victory. It was announced earlier in the week that two sons of the President, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. would be present for the main event on Saturday.

All antics will be put aside on Saturday when Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler face off in the main event. Covington currently sits in #2 in the Welterweight rankings, with Lawler at #11. A win for Covington could mean a now long-awaited title shot, with Lawler also being put in the conversation if he comes out victorious. 

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