UFC Welterweight crossroads

Right now in the welterweight division we are coming to an interesting crossroads. The unbelievable, long-running Georges St-Pierre era is over and the longest reigning champion since the Canadian, Tyron Woodley, has also lost his title to Kamaru Usman

With Usman yet to defend his belt due to injury, we’re at a place where, for a while, we really had no idea who or what was next at 170 lbs. 

That might have changed, though, this weekend when former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler fought former interim-welterweight champion Colby Covington, the bookies favourite on legal sports betting sites, in the main event of ESPN’s fifth TV offering live from the Prudential Centre, in Newark, New Jersey. But, maybe it didn’t. 

As we speak, Jorge Masvidal has placed himself right with Colby towards the head of the queue to fight for the title next. The Floridian has blasted his way to number three in the welterweight rankings with knockout wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren in his last two outings. But it’s the way he has done it, coupled with the reaction he has garnered that have really set him apart.

After the Till fight, Masvidal threw his now infamous bare-knuckle ‘three piece and a soda’ punch combination at Leon Edwards during a post-fight interview. The clip went viral and, because of the way he played it off, he became even more of a cult hero than his early days of association with Kimbo Slice had made him. Then came the fastest KO in UFC history against Ben Askren which was short enough to spread like wildfire as a gif online. 

In today’s world, that might matter more than anything else. Since the UFC’s takeover by WME/IME (now Endeavour) the promotion has gone over the top on entertainment and giving the fans what they want above what a sporting organization should produce. 

From a sporting side of things, Colby Covington should already fought the UFC welterweight champion. Even though Jorge Masvidal has two fantastic wins in a row, he did lose two straight before that and probably shouldn’t have even been in the conversation before the Askren KO. Whereas Covington currently rides a 7-fight win streak and beat former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos for the interim title in his last outing before Saturday, following a win over Demian Maia who had beaten Masvidal a few months previous to that. 

Now though, Masvidal has the quality wins, the exciting finishes and the entertaining aspect outside the cage which makes the man to be named the next title challenger a much tougher decision. 

For Covington, he needed to put on a show this weekend both inside and outside of the cage to assure that shot. And he arguably did just that. He needed to beat the legendary Robbie Lawler comprehensively, who himself was hell-bent on getting back towards the title, while hitting the right notes outside of the cage. Winning all five rounds, while showing much improved striking, was the perfect display inside of the cage. While outside of the cage, he did it his own way. The MAGA hat wearing American had two of President Donald Trump’s sons cageside, walked out to Kurt Angle’s theme song and cut a great promo on champion Usman. Right now it’s hard to bet against either one of these two fighters.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma