The former UFC welterweight champion has rarely engaged in any kind of verbal exchange with his opponents as he prefers to let his fists do the talking for him. That’s why his main event fight this weekend at UFC Newark against Colby Covington was an interesting piece of matchmaking considering how the former interim champion has gone out of his way to verbally bash just about every opponent he’s faced for the past few years.
As soon as the bout with Lawler was announced, Covington immediately launched into a tirade aimed at his former teammate after they previously trained together at American Top Team in Florida. At the heart of Covington’s gripes, he claimed that Lawler left the team after he lost his title to fellow ATT fighter Tyron Woodley and a blown-up photo of him was hung up in the gym.
Lawler has rarely addressed his exit from his former team and the pokes and prods from Covington aren’t going to make him suddenly start singing like a bird.
“I left [American Top Team] and it is what it is. He wanted a storyline,” Lawler told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “People ask a lot of questions, especially with this fight going on. Whatever. It is what it is. I’m good to go.”
As much as Covington has gotten under the skin of many of his past opponents, Lawler doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other about what’s being said about him in the lead-up to the fight.
Covington might just be talking to hear himself speak at this point because Lawler has never taken time out of his day to pay attention to his opponents’ interviews.
“I just ignore it. I don’t really follow what people are saying, what people are doing,” Lawler said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I focus on how I can get better, focus on my family, eating right, making sure I get the right amount of sleep. Those are the things I focus on.
“I can’t really worry about what everybody else is doing nor does it affect me at all. I just try to be me and keep moving on.”
When it comes to the actual fight, Lawler does have some memories from training with Covington back when they were on the same team together.
Several years back, Lawler was preparing for a pair of fights against Johny Hendricks, and Covington was a key sparring partner for those camps to help him deal with a left-handed wrestler.
“He’s a really good wrestler, who continued to work on his skills day to day,” Lawler said about Covington. “His wrestling, his jiu-jitsu and his striking, I just remember a guy who was tedious and trying to get better.”
Regarding Covington’s recent six-fight win streak that including a brief reign as interim welterweight champion, Lawler was impressed by what he saw out of his former training partner and he knows “Chaos” will be at his best when they clash on Saturday.
“I watched his fights and look at the things he does really well and the things that he likes to implement. That’s it,” Lawler said. “I’ve been in the sport for a long time. It’s just business as usual. Just focus on what the guy does well and what he likes to do and that’s it.”
A win over Covington this weekend would definitely put Lawler in an advantageous position in the welterweight division. Prior to this fight coming together, Lawler was rumored for a pair of rematches against two former opponents— Ben Askren and Woodley—but he’s not going to be calling anybody out if he’s victorious.
All that matters to Lawler is getting the win and then as long as the next opponent offered to him is intriguing enough, he’ll be ready to fight again.
“It just comes down to whether I’m excited for a fight or not, that’s it. I’m as excited as I get for a fight,” Lawler said with a laugh when referencing his bout with Covington. “I’m pretty much business as usual.
“If a fight makes sense and my manager and coaches think it’s a good idea, there’s a lot of moving parts. It’s not just me. I have a team around me and we talk and look over stuff and that’s it.”