What Colby Covington needs to improve

Colby Covington has recently had a spectacular performance against Robbie Lawler at UFC on ESPN 5, but I couldn’t help but notice a few things that he could improve to be even better.

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate Covington’s performance against Lawler which was outstanding. The pace he kept the entire fight, working nonstop, switching between strikes and takedowns, relentless pressure, mat returns, control…a truly high-level performance.

Let’s also appreciate Lawler for getting up so many times and enduring against such a difficult opponent which was not easy.

Now let’s look at the fight statistics.

Like most of us, I was in awe of Colby Covington’s numbers. Over 500 strikes thrown and 19 takedown attempts. That is close to 5 per round. But when you look at the ground control it’s less than 3 minutes for the entire 25-minute fight.

Despite amazing transitions between striking and wrestling and great mat returns, I think he needs to improve on 2 things:

1. Ground control and ground and pound
2. Submissions

Ground control and ground & pound of Colby Covington

He attempted 19 takedowns and landed 13 in the fight. While that is impressive, he wouldn’t need to do so much if he had better ground control. Lawler then could not get up or would get up less, and Covington would be in a position to deliver ground and pound and possibly finish the fight.

I’m not sure if Covington landed one significant punch on the ground at all. While he was hindered by Lawler getting up so much, there were a few chances to deliver significant strikes.

The most notable to me was an opportunity to land a very big knee to the ribs in this situation:

Covington’s failed knee opportunity

The main problem was that Covington didn’t put a lot of weight on Lawler which allowed him to get up so much. Meaning he could have made himself heavier on top of Lawler. Covington did follow those get-ups with mat returns many times, which made Lawler expend more energy, but it is best avoided if possible by keeping the opponent on the ground since the mat returner is also exerting himself. Just to clarify, I’m all for mat returns, but if you can control your opponent with good positioning and GNP, that’s even better.

Lack of submissions

Then we have submissions or their lack of. Colby Covington did attempt a few rear-naked chokes, but I was under the impression that he didn’t want to do it over the chin but clean under it like you would do it on a training partner who you don’t want to hurt. If he couldn’t get under the chin, he could have attempted over it, or a neck crank like Damien Maia.

Damien Maia neck cranks Rick Story

That, of course, depends on his skill level in that position, and we cannot expect him to be a master of every position. All fighters have preferences, and these were just ideas.

Another idea for a submission is also a neck crank from this position. It is done by taking a seatbelt grip and putting him down on his back. I call it the seatbelt neck crank and you can watch my detailed tutorial on it here.

Seatbelt neck crank

To be fair, Lawler is known to be a very difficult opponent take down and keep down, so Covington had his hands full. On top of that, he sustained a gruesome cut on his eyebrow 3 weeks before the fight, so he couldn’t prepare properly. He said he could only run and that can mess up your preparations quite a bit.

Covington’s cut on the eyebrow

Nevertheless, he overcame the hardships and came out as a victor. Excellent performance and I cannot wait to see him against Usman.

What did you think about the fight? Do you agree with me regarding the ground control and ground & pound? Let me know in the youtube comments.

If you liked this video/article, like it, share it and subscribe. And if you’d like to take your MMA training further, check out my instructionals and especially Total GNP Blueprint where I go into tiniest of details when it comes to ground control and GNP.

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