Understanding the Chaos: Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler

Colby Covington
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 09: Colby Covington celebrates after finishing five rounds against Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil in their interim welterweight title fight during the UFC 225 event at the United Center on June 9, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Colby Covington has truly lived up to his nickname of “Chaos”. His antics outside of the cage have garnered him media attention, a positive or negative, depending on your personal perception. To truly understand the chaos, it is important that we break down what makes Covington successful in the cage.

Covington will be fighting “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler on August 3rd, 2019. In this article, I will look at his fight with Rafael dos Anjos, as it will be the best blueprint to how Covington will approach fighting Lawler. For Lawler, the dos Anjos vs. Covington fight will be an important resource for him as well. While dos Anjos and Lawler are different fighters, their principles for fighting Covington will be similar. In understanding the chaos, we can look to see if Lawler can fully exploit the flaws that dos Anjos could not.

Colby Covington Breakdown

High Pace, Low Stakes

In the words of my esteemed colleague Danny Martin, “He’s (Covington) more enthusiastic than good”. The principle behind Covington’s approach to fighting is to create chaos and then thrive in it. Rarely does he come into a fight looking to calmly strike or look for opportunities. Instead, Covington comes straight forward, winging punches and grinding for takedowns.

Covington understands that he is not the technically superior striker in most match ups. As a result, he charges into the fight to possibly tie up and work his grinding style.

Striking For the Sake of it

All of Covington’s striking is designed to push his opponent back and keep their hands close to their body.

While ugly, his loopy punches have enough sting to back dos Anjos up. Adding in the front snap kick also gives Covington more weapons to distract the already retreating RDA. This all serves his objective of creating panic within dos Anjos.

Grinding Down the Veteran

The goal for Covington in his fight against dos Anjos was to back him up and wear him down. Takedowns were great if Covington could get them, but with an insane gas tank, Covington knew that constantly cycling between the clinch and takedown attempts would be enough.

Due to Covington’s eagerness to rush into boxing range, dos Anjos was able to get some strikes off.

Covington’s success in the dos Anjos fight was primarily due to his overwhelming frenzy of strikes and non-stop action, which wore down dos Anjos. While I find the result of the fight to be contentious, I think Covington did enough to win the fight, in a general sense. Still, dos Anjos showed that there are flaws in Covington’s game that could be exploited.

Styles Make Fights

During my rewatch of Covington-dos Anjos, I was treated to this commentary by Joe Rogan, “RDA beat Robbie Lawler in boxing, and so it is amazing that Covington is now beating up RDA in the clinch”. Please don’t take this as serious analysis.

Commentary can be subjective, but styles make fights and Rogan should hardly be your top source on these matters. Regardless, RDA beating Lawler does not mean that Lawler cannot beat Covington. Lawler, in fact, possesses skills that RDA does not.

Ruthless Clinching

In the clinch, Lawler has a better understanding of position over striking. In his second fight against Johny Hendricks, Lawler would drop his head into the chin of Hendricks. This allowed Lawler to one, deny the takedown, and two, it gave him the frame from which he could deal damage.

Striking Styles

I mentioned earlier that dos Anjos was effective in small bursts of action. Looking at Covington’s striking, I find Lawler to be a worse matchup for his loopy punching. To start, Lawler has an educated jab and can apply footwork to land it consistently. Against a fellow southpaw, expect jabs to fly.


While Lawler and dos Anjos will both box and move, dos Anjos is a pressure fighter, he likes to come forward. Lawler, however, is a counter fighter. Expect Lawler to give Covington space to throw his loopy punches and come around with a counter.

Necessities for Covington

After understanding the chaos, you can see Covington’s gameplan for dos Anjos could work well against Lawler. Keeping Lawler consistently against the fence heightens the chances of wearing him down and getting a takedown. Furthermore, Covington has shown his love for the calf kick, which is kryptonite to Lawler’s long stance.


Colby Covington will be fighting a stylistic challenge on Saturday. While he possesses the advantage of youth and cardio, his tenacity to punch and swing might bite him. While his wild aggressive nature won him the dos Anjos fight, Lawler will not be easy to back up without consequence. Furthermore, Covington will need to prove that he can exert more consistent strength in the clinch as opposed to his frequent resting during the dos Anjos fight.

I believe that Covington will likely eek out another grinding decision. However, he will also be punished in punching exchanges and in segments of the clinch. Still, Lawler is a tough and grimy fighter who can deny clinch exchanges and punish poor boxing. This fight will be interesting and exciting if both fighters come out as, at the very least, their usual selves.

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