As of Monday afternoon, former Ultimate Fighting Championship interim welterweight champion Colby Covington was certain that his next fight would be a title bout against current champ Kamaru Usman. However, by night's end, ESPN began reporting that Covington's next opponent would actually be "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler.
Covington's manager and coach Dan Lambert spoke to James Lynch of The Score MMA today and confirmed just how quickly his fighter's plans were altered. "I actually had lunch with Colby a few days ago and he was confirming that the November 2 fight was still on and wanted to make sure everything was a go and I told him it was a go," said Lambert. "It was promised, it was what we were told would happen."
Lambert, owner of the famed American Top Team gym in Coconut Creek, Florida, explained that despite the UFC's assertions, he was aware of the looming threat of a last-minute change in direction.
"But the only caveat was I knew that they were anxious to fill a void on an Aug. 3 show. It's a big ESPN show. I knew that some of the main events they were targeting did not come through. So, I had a feeling that he might be getting a phone call, and that call came last night. And sometimes they make an offer you can't refuse, or maybe a demand you can't refuse," admitted Lambert.
With "Chaos" being one of the most vocal middleweights of his era, and Lawler being quite the opposite, it's likely that the build-up to this clash won't be as ostentatious as it might have been with an opponent like Usman. But for Lambert, the issue is not with his fighter's matchup, but rather, with the implications of the matchup.
"It's not really disappointment in the opponent, it's just disappointment that it's not for a title. Colby wanted the belt. He didn't care who had it. So, it is what it is. That's the fight that was put on him, and that's the fight that he's gonna take."
"Chaos" will face the 37-year-old Lawler (28-13) on Aug. 3 at UFC on ESPN 5 in Newark, New Jersey.