Colby "Chaos" Covington proved he can do a little more than talk, as he secured a unanimous-decision win over Rafael dos Anjos to claim the interim welterweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 225 in Chicago.
Covington's pressure game and wrestling were on full display, as the 30-year-old (14-1) harassed and smothered Dos Anjos (28-10) at every turn.
Covington wasted no time in setting his usual frenetic pressure. He immediately backed RDA up to the cage and scored a takedown in the opening seconds of the fight. While he was able to hold the position for a while, the former lightweight champion worked his way back to the feet.
Once he was there, Chaos continued to back RDA up to the fence, but wasn't able to drag him to the mat. Light heavyweight Daniel Cormier gave the close round to Covington:
The second frame was more of the same as Covington continued to control where the fight took place and Dos Anjos continued to blast strikes whenever given any space. Dos Anjos made it clear that depositing damage to the body he could cash in on later was a key part of his strategy:
Covington continued to apply pressure and pace throughout the third round. Dos Anjos was never given the opportunity to reset his feet as Covington was always holding him up against the fence, shooting for a takedown or winging punches at him.
Chamatkar Sandhu of ESPN was impressed with the apparent gas tank of Covington while giving him the edge heading into the fourth round.
It wasn't until the fourth round that RDA decided to take the initiative to open the round. He hit Covington with a hard left to start the round before securing a takedown:
With the fight potentially tied going into the fifth and final round, neither fighter did anything different than they did in the previous four rounds. Dos Anjos' effort was highlighted by a clean left hook that shook Covington off his pressure game temporarily, but Chaos continued to stifle RDA afterwards.
In the end, it wasn't a decision that will be popular with many, but Covington got the interim belt and potentially the next fight with Tyron Woodley:
This is the clearest sign yet that Covington has what it takes to be a legitimate contender in the division. His winning streak now sits at six, with victories over Demian Maia and Dos Anjos adding extra weight to his streak.
With the interim title in hand, it would make sense that his next step is a fight with Tyron Woodley, but that might not be the case. Woodley wants to fight in August and is leaning toward a big-money bout with Georges St-Pierre, Nate Diaz or Conor McGregor.
When Covington finally gets his chance against the champion, the fight will generate lots of build-up. Chaos is known for trying to stir the pot, and he was already setting the groundwork for a matchup with T-Wood before this fight.
"We hate each other. That's a real beef," Covington said of Woodley, per Brandon Wise of CBS Sports. "Some of these beefs, it's manufactured and fake. That's a real beef. We legitimately hate each other. We're not going to be able to be in the same room together; there's gonna have to be people that separate us. There's a lot of animosity."
Covington's schtick may have helped him get to his opportunity against RDA sooner, but it hasn't gained traction with casual fans. His Twitter following was at 33,600 before this fight as compared to Woodley, who isn't even all that compelling as a personality and still has 184,000 followers.
With the win over RDA, Covington might not have to depend on his trash-talking brand to achieve his goals. Regardless of what others think of the polarizing figure, he's making his name in the cage.
With an interim title and six-fight winning streak, he has as good an argument to be Woodley's next fight as anyone does.