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UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler Odds and Picks

UFC on ESPN 5 Betting Odds

It has been over three years since the UFC visited the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, but that is the venue for UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler. The main event is likely a No. 1 contender fight to be next in line to fight welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Colby “Chaos” Covington is the interim champ and he is a -230 favorite with former titleholder “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler coming back at +180. I have a breakdown and a pick for each fight on the main card.

Scott Hastings’ 2019 Prediction Record To Date
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Colby Covington vs Robbie Lawler

Covington (-230) attempts to collect his seventh straight victory and take one step closer to unifying his interim title with the official championship that Kamaru Usman possesses. “Chaos” won the interim belt with his five-round unanimous-decision win over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 in June of last year, but hasn’t been back in action since. In his six-fight winning streak, four have been decision wins.

The Oregon native is a suffocating fighter who marches forward from the outset of a fight, essentially running at his foes with overhand strikes or flying attacks, doing his best to close the distance. Once he gets his hands on his foes, the fight typically hits the floor as he averages 5.63 takedowns per 15 minutes and has landed five or more takedowns in five of his last six fights. His striking is a little wild and sloppy but his output is high. He has dished out 90 or more strikes in each of his last five.

Lawler (+180) looks to put an end to his first two-fight losing slide since 2011, aiming to capture his first win since 2017. “Ruthless” held the welterweight title from 2014 to 2016, making two title defenses before losing by first-round knockout to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201. More recently, he lost by five-round decision to dos Anjos and suffered a controversial first-round submission loss to Ben Askren in March. This is Lawler’s 21st walk to the Octagon.

The 37-year-old is extremely aggressive, intimidating his opponent by stalking forward lightly on his feet looking to let his hands fly. When Lawler backs his opponent against the cage, he goes on an all-out attack with a flurry of punches, which has resulted in 20 of his 28 wins ending by knockout. That being said, he only has one knockout win over his last eight bouts and that came in 2015 against Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald.

This is a high-level fight in the welterweight division with a chance to fight for the title on the line. Both men like to be the aggressor, but when the distance is closed, they have different approaches. Covington will do his best to smother Lawler, press him against the cage and do some clinch work, or drag him to the floor and work his ground and pound. Meanwhile, Ruthless will attempt to let his hands fly and knock Chaos out.

Prediction: Colby Covington (-230) via decision

Jim Miller vs Clay Guida

Miller (-155) seeks his first winning streak since he won three in a row in 2016 and he has dropped five of his last seven bouts. “A10” has won two of his last three with each of those bouts ending via first-round submission. Most recently, he needed just 2:12 to sink in a rear-naked choke against Jason Gonzalez. During his four-fight losing slide from 2017 into 2018, he fought top competitors in Dustin Poirier, Anthony Pettis, Francisco Trinaldo and Dan Hooker.

The 35-year-old likes to stalk forward, trying to close distance and get into a grappling exchange. On the feet, Miller stands a little flat-footed and doesn’t use a lot of movement or feints to set up his strikes, but he does have a nice lean-backward counter left that he lands regularly. Overall, he is a strong wrestler, averaging 1.78 takedowns per 15 minutes, and 16 of his 30 professional wins have ended by submission.

Guida (+125) makes his second walk to the Octagon this year, looking to continue his hot stretch in which he has won three of his last four bouts. “The Carpenter” fought former lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 237 in May and earned a unanimous-decision victory in a dominant performance. This is Guida’s 28th walk to the Octagon.

The Illinois native is an extremely active fighter, constantly bouncing around with a seemingly endless gas tank. He tends to throw lunging hooks to help him close the distance and work toward a takedown and he averages 3.33 takedowns per 15 minutes. With Guida’s style of throwing loopy hooks, he tends to be second to the punch compared to people who throw more straight punches.

It is surprising that these two veterans that climbed the ranks nearly at the same time have never stood across from each other in the Octagon. Two very experienced fighters who have a combined 59 fights in the UFC know the trials and tribulations of the game. Miller’s lean-back, counter straight left may find repeated success against Guida’s loopy hooks and I also anticipate A10 to have the edge on the floor if the fight gets there.

Prediction: Jim Miller (-155) via submission

Joaquim Silva vs Nasrat Haqparast

Silva (+200) is looking to get back on a winning streak following his knockout victory over Jared Gordon in December. “Netto BJJ” entered the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record and continued that path with three straight wins in the Octagon before suffering his first pro loss to Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision in January of last year. Silva rebounded with his third-round knockout over Gordon.

The Brazil native, much like his fellow countrymen, has strong, fast kicks that he throws frequently. Silva tends to load up on his strikes and doesn’t set them up well, instead just going for the hope and prayer that he lands and puts his opponent asleep. That is really reflected in his strike accuracy with him landing just 38 percent of his strikes, but six of his 11 pro wins have ended by knockout.

Haqparast (-260) aims to pick up a third straight win, while still searching for his first finish inside the Octagon. The Afghanistan native won eight straight fights from 2013 to 2017, all by knockout, but lost his UFC debut to Marcin Held by unanimous decision, the second defeat on his professional record. He rebounded with back-to-back dominant decision wins over Marc Diakiese and Thibault Gouti.

The 23-year-old is a very mobile striker who remains just on the outside of his opponent’s reach and does a great job at getting in, landing a few strikes and getting out without absorbing much damage. Haqparast’s defense is remarkable for such a young fighter, making his opponents miss 75 percent of their strikes, while he lands 5.42 significant strikes per minute. He also does a good job throwing combinations rather than just one strike at a time.

This is a potential fight of the night between two strikers who have good speed and power. Haqparast has much better entries into exchanges and far superior defense to Silva’s. That being said, I would give the power advantage to Silva as he really bites down on his mouthpiece and throws all his strikes with bad intentions. I expect Haqparast to have the edge in nearly every aspect of this fight.

Prediction: Nasrat Haqparast (-260) via knockout

Trevin Giles vs Gerald Meerschaert

Giles (-170) looks to get back in the win column after suffering his first professional loss. “The Problem” entered the Octagon for the first time in July 2017, after building his resume with a perfect 9-0 record, and he continued his winning ways with two straight knockout wins in the UFC. However, his perfect record didn’t stay intact in his fight against Zak Cummings in May as he suffered a third-round submission loss.

The 26-year-old has a very calm demeanor in the Octagon, almost lulling his opponents to sleep with his slow, subtle movements before letting his hands fly. When he does throw strikes, they are lightning-quick with quite a bit of pop and he does a good job avoiding damage, making his opponents miss 71 percent of their strike attempts.

Meerschaert (+140) aims to avoid his first-ever three-fight losing slide. “GM3” had been on a tear from 2014 to 2018, winning eight of nine fights, five of them in the UFC, with his only loss over that span coming against light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos. That being said, the 31-year-old finds himself on a two-fight losing skid after falling to Jack Hermansson by submission and Kevin Holland by split decision.

Meerschaert has really good wrestling, averaging 3.64 takedowns per 15 minutes and hitting 44 percent of his takedown attempts. In his most recent fight with Kevin Holland, he was able to bring the fight to the mat six times. When the 31-year-old is able to get his hands on his opponents, he is very dangerous, as 20 of his 28 professional wins have been by submission. However, he also has eight submission losses on his record. In the standup, he has only been knocked out once and that came against the dangerous Thiago Santos.

This is a classic striker vs grappler matchup as Giles will keep the fight on the feet and use his speed and accuracy to piece up Meerschaert at range. Meanwhile, GM3 will do his best to get the fight to the floor and work toward a submission. Giles looked a little overmatched on the floor against Antonio Braga Neto in December 2017 but did enough to survive.

Prediction: Gerald Meerschaert (+140) via submission

Scott Holtzman vs Dong Hyun Ma

Holtzman (-450) had his three-fight winning streak come to an end in his first fight of 2019. “Hot Sauce” looks like he’s coming into his own of late, going to the judges’ scorecards five straight times and winning three of those bouts before earning a third-round knockout over Alan Patrick at UFC 229. However, he ran into crafty veteran Nik Lentz his last time out and was dragged to the floor five times en route to a unanimous-decision loss.

The Tennessee native likes to back his opponents against the cage and let his hands go. He is aggressive but tends to fire one strike at a time, loading up to inflict as much damage as possible each time. He does average 4.36 strikes per minute and has landed 90 or more strikes in five of his last six bouts. His takedown defense has been a bit of an issue, though. As mentioned above, he was taken down five times by Nik Lentz and he has been taken down at least once in six of his last seven bouts.

Ma (+325), like Holtzman, also saw his three-fight winning streak snapped earlier this year. “Maestro” has been fairly inactive recently, fighting just five times since the start of 2016 and going 3-2 over that span with knockout losses to Marco Polo Reyes and, more recently, Devonte Smith at UFC 234 in February. Prior to that loss, Ma had won three straight fights, including a knockout win over Takanori Gomi.

The South Korea native is very light on his feet, typically staying on the outside and working his long jab and kicks. He’s not overly active but rather paws away at his opponents looking to bait them into striking so he can counter. He doesn’t do a tremendous job moving his head when he’s in striking range and drops his hands frequently when he throws. This has resulted in him absorbing 4.56 strikes per minute.

This is an interesting bout as both fighters get what they want in an opponent. Ma will stay on his back foot and try to counter Holtzman as he enters, while Hot Sauce will have an opponent who will stand and trade with him, allowing the distance to close. I don’t think that Ma will want to get in long striking exchanges as he has been knocked out three times, while Holtzman has never suffered a loss in that manner.

Prediction: Scott Holtzman (-450) via decision

Darko Stosic vs Kennedy Nzechukwu

Stosic (-135) aims to get back in the win column following his first loss since 2014 and just the second of his career. The Serbia native made short work of Jeremy Kimball in his UFC debut, earning a first-round knockout in just 3:13 for his ninth win in a row. However, in his second and most recent bout in the Octagon, he fell by unanimous decision against a strong performance from Devin Clark.

Stosic is a very calm and composed fighter standing very flat-footed and has little to no movement. He will throw kicks from afar but typically he is just loading up for a powerful counter-strike to put his opponent away. This has been a fairly successful strategy thus far as eight of his 13 pro wins have ended by knockout. That being said, he was dropped multiple times against Devin Clark and has one knockout loss on his record as well.

Nzechukwu (+105) seeks his first win in the UFC after losing his debut in March. “African Savage” earned a UFC contract after earning two victories in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, the second of which came by first-round knockout. He also had a perfect 6-0 record before his late third-round submission loss to Paul Craig in his debut.

The Nigeria native doesn’t have a high output, slowly inching forward, but will only let his hands fly when he’s in close range. Additionally, he doesn’t load up on his strikes but rather touches his foes with light combinations. Nzechukwu has decent wrestling defense, stuffing 86 percent of Paul Craig’s takedown attempts in his UFC debut.

I anticipate Nzechukwu to be the aggressor in this bout trying to back Stosic down. However, the Serbia native really likes to stand his ground and load up on counter-strikes when his opponent enters his range. “African Savage” will have to do a better job with his striking defense as well. When he gets in exchanges with his foes, he typically just holds his arms out to keep them at bay, which is not a good approach when opponents storm forward.

Prediction: Darko Stosic (-135) via knockout

Here’s a look at the full list of odds for UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler:

UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler
  • Colby Covington -230
  • Robbie Lawler +180
Odds as of August 2 at Bovada
  • Jim Miller -155
  • Clay Guida +125
  • Joaquim Silva +200
  • Nasrat Haqparast -260
  • Trevin Giles -170
  • Gerald Meerschaert +140 
  • Scott Holtzman -450
  • Dong Hyun Ma +325
  • Darko Stosic -135
  • Kennedy Nzechukwu +105
  • Mickey Gall EVEN
  • Salim Touahri -130
  • Antonina Shevchenko -155
  • Lucie Pudilova +125
  • Cole Williams +325
  • Claudio Silva -450
  • Jordan Espinosa -135
  • Matt Schnell +105
  • Lauren Murphy +155
  • Mara Romero Borella -190
  • Miranda Granger +110
  • Hannah Goldy -140