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Covington set for UFC return against former welterweight champion Lawler

The pair are being targeted to headline the UFC on ESPN 5 card on 3 August.

Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler are set to headline UFC on ESPN 5 this August.
Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler are set to headline UFC on ESPN 5 this August.

COLBY COVINGTON LOOKS set to return to the Octagon for the first time in more than a year with a main event slot against former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in the works for 3 August.

First reported by ESPN, former interim welterweight champion Covington had originally been destined for a title fight with Kamaru Usman but now is expected to top the bill opposite Lawler at UFC on ESPN 5 in Newark.

The 31-year-old last fought on 10 June 2018 when he scored a decision victory over Rafael Dos Anjos to claim the interim 170lbs title.

He was stripped of the title just one month later due to inactivity, officially being relieved of the belt when then-champion Tyron Woodley and Darren Till fought last September.

Having amassed a six-fight win-streak that stretches back to 2016 and includes wins over Dom Hyun Kim and former welterweight title challenger, Demian Maya, Covington has been vocally critical of the UFC and its president Dana White for not setting up an immediate title unification clash with Woodley, who he was ultimately dethroned in March of this year.

MMA: UFC 235-Woodley vs Usman Kamaru Usman defeats Tyron Woodley to lift the UFC welterweight crown in March. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Covington says he took the slot because the UFC needed a main event on short notice. Referring to himself as the “last real champion” of the welterweight division, he went on to criticise Ben Askren and champion Usman for not stepping up to take the fight.

Lawler, meanwhile, is looking to arrest a run of two consecutive defeats – to Dos Anjos last December and more recently to Askren in March.

The 37-year-old has has won just once since returning to the Octagon – celebrating a decision victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 in July 2017, a year after he lost his title to Woodley.

He was billed to fight the Ferguson native in a rematch at UFC on ESPN 3 on 30 June, but Woodley was forced to withdraw in May due to a suspected hand injury.

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