Colby Covington tops Rafael dos Anjos for interim welterweight belt

CHICAGO -- Colby Covington has put a lot of work into becoming a UFC villain. Apparently, that isn't the only thing he has been working on.

Covington (14-1) claimed the UFC's interim welterweight championship at UFC 225 on Saturday night at the United Center, defeating Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision. Two judges scored it 48-47 and the third scored it 49-46.

A key factor in the five-round fight was Covington's pace. He crowded dos Anjos with forward movement from bell to bell. According to Fightmetric, he threw 355 total strikes and attempted 23 takedowns.

"No one can stop my will," Covington said. "No one can go 25 minutes."

A former lightweight champion, dos Anjos (28-10) made Covington pay for his aggression at times -- but ultimately not enough. He landed solid knees and punches to the body as Covington came forward, as well as elbows to the side of the head when Covington worked for single-leg takedowns.

Covington's pressure made it difficult for dos Anjos to find a rhythm, however. Although he landed plenty of offense from the clinch, he was constantly on his back foot, which zapped his power. He did connect with a couple of left hands that threw Covington off-balance but never truly hurt him.

A former NCAA All-American wrestler, Covington has embraced a pro wrestling shtick on social media and in interviews. It has had the effect he has been looking for. On several occasions, the Chicago crowd chanted in unison, "Colby sucks."

It was probably music to Covington's ears.

The win should set up a title unification bout between Covington, 30, and undisputed champion Tyron Woodley, who hasn't fought in 2018 because of a shoulder injury. The two are former teammates at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.

"All I want to say is this is the real championship belt," Covington said. "I'm taking this belt to the White House and putting it on Donald Trump's desk.

"Woodley is a coward. You can't run. You can't hide. I'm coming for you. This is the real championship belt. If you got something to say, come see me."

Asked if he could help Covington take his belt to the White House, UFC president Dana White said after Saturday's card, "I can make that happen."