What's next for Colby Covington? A long-awaited welterweight title fight

Covington, Usman separated by security during interview (0:55)

Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman trash talk each other, leading security to step in. For the full UFC Post Show, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc. (0:55)

One hour after receiving a message of support on social media from the president of the United States, Colby Covington went out and dismantled Robbie Lawler for 25 minutes -- proving, beyond any doubt, he is next in line to challenge defending champion Kamaru Usman.

Covington set a UFC record for attempted strikes (541) in the bout, and also converted 10 of his 18 takedown attempts.

Will that pace be enough to beat Usman? It's tough to say, but there is no debating it should be the next matchup for the belt at 170 pounds. So what's next for Covington and some of the key fighters who were on Saturday's UFC Fight Night card? Here is ESPN's take.

Colby Covington, welterweight
Result: Defeated Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision
Next: Kamaru Usman

Clear as day. Honestly, Covington probably should have received a shot before Usman did, at UFC 235 earlier this year. But Covington couldn't get on the same page as the UFC as far as making a welterweight title shot happen, while going over a year without fighting, and his shot went to someone else as a result.

It'd be virtually impossible for that to happen to Covington again. He is not only the obvious choice for Usman, he's the only choice, really. As impressive as Jorge Masvidal has been in 2019, his winning streak stands at two. Covington has won seven straight, including back-to-back wins over former champions in Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos.

I've actually wanted to see this matchup for years. I called for it earlier in their careers, as these two were making their way through the ranks. Now, I'm grateful that it never happened. This is a fantastic championship matchup, and there are plenty of previous interactions between these two to get the public excited about it.

Robbie Lawler, welterweight
Lost to Colby Covington via unanimous decision
Next: Stephen Thompson

One of the reactions I saw most on social media Saturday was something to the effect of: Lawler didn't try. He didn't let his hands go. He never went for broke.

I have a couple thoughts on that. You have to give Covington a lot of credit for it. It's not easy to throw with bad intentions when you're under a constant barrage of strikes, as Lawler was in this fight. He also had to worry about getting taken down, and his back was against the fence for much of the fight. Covington's pace clearly wore on him.

And don't forget, Lawler isn't really known as a "high volume" guy. He attempted 171 strikes Saturday, according to UFC Stats. That number is pretty much right in line with his other five-round fights in the UFC, in which he attempted 212, 177, 156, 201, 200 and (the one outlier) 331.

I don't think Saturday was evidence of Lawler's performances falling off a cliff. I think he simply ran into a well-conditioned, well-rounded, hungry opponent who beat him. Now, that said, he's in need of a win. So is Thompson, who has mentioned fighting dos Anjos in November. I'd prefer to see him fight Lawler.

Jim Miller, lightweight
Defeated Clay Guida via first-round submission
Next: Lando Vannata

Welcome to the 20-win club, Jim Miller. He joins a distinguished list with only four other men who have done it: Donald Cerrone (23), Demian Maia (21), Georges St-Pierre (20) and Michael Bisping (20).

It almost feels as if Miller has fought the entire roster at this point. He says he wants to keep it going, so how about Miller vs. 'Groovy' Vannata on Oct. 18 in Boston? Vannata has had a strange UFC career. It started with a short-notice fight against Tony Ferguson in July 2016. Vannata lost, but he performed well. He has since had two draws, a couple of disappointing performances against fellow prospects, and finally a first-round submission win in his last bout against Marcos Mariano in February.

It's a fun matchup between two guys with fun styles.

Nasrat Haqparast, lightweight
Defeated Joaquim Silva via second-round KO
Next: Alexander Hernandez

Is it too early to match up Haqparast with a top-15 talent? I don't think so. Some of you probably know, I've been championing Haqparast for a while now. I am a big believer in this 23-year-old's potential, and he flashed it big time in that Saturday knockout.

Hernandez is up there in the rankings, but he's coming off a controversial win over Francisco Trinaldo in July that was far from a crowd pleaser. Before that, he suffered a humbling loss in January at the hands of Cerrone, on a high-profile UFC Fight Night in Brooklyn. In other words, he's in a good spot in the rankings, but he's not in a position to really call his next shot.

Haqparast might be unranked, but he has some well-deserved buzz around him at this point, with three consecutive wins in the UFC. This one makes a ton of sense, from any angle.