Former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington is apparently done waiting for his shot at the undisputed title and will instead return to action in August.
A main event showdown between Covington and former undisputed champion Robbie Lawler is expected to headline the upcoming UFC Fight Night card in Newark, New Jersey, on Aug. 3.
Multiple sources close to the situation confirmed verbal agreements are in place for the fight when speaking to MMAFighting on Monday. ESPN initially reported the matchup.
It’s been a long strange road back to the cage for Covington, who won an interim title last June with a unanimous decision victory over Rafael dos Anjos. Covington was then scheduled to have sinus surgery that would keep him sidelined for several weeks and the UFC opted to move forward with a title fight in September between then-champion Tyron Woodley and British slugger Darren Till.
Woodley won the fight, but suffered a thumb injury that put him out of action. The UFC then tried to book Covington against Woodley in January, but the welterweight champion wasn’t quite ready to return yet.
So the UFC shifted gears and attempted to make a fight between Covington and Kamaru Usman, who was coming off his own dominant win over dos Anjos in his most recent performance. Covington opted to wait for Woodley and the UFC then decided to give Usman the next title shot instead.
Usman earned a lopsided decision against Woodley to win the welterweight title, but he then had to go under the knife for double hernia surgery that was going to keep him sidelined for a big part of 2019.
Covington was once again promised the title shot when Usman returned, but it appears he’s done waiting to fight and will instead attempt to cement his position as the No. 1 contender in the division.
As for Lawler, the former champion will look to get back on track following his first round submission loss to Ben Askren in his most recent fight. Lawler slammed Askren on his head and nearly earned a knockout in the opening moments of their UFC 235 meeting, but the 2008 Olympian survived before locking on a bulldog choke submission.
Lawler appeared to go unconscious for a moment, which led to the fight being stopped. However, he popped up almost instantaneously and protested the stoppage, but it was already too late.
Now Lawler will look to return to the win column while facing a former teammate in Covington after they previously trained together at American Top Team in Florida.
Covington vs. Lawler is expected to headline the UFC Newark, which takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The main card is scheduled to air on ESPN.