Just moments after Leon Edwards (21-3) once again conquered former welterweight king Kamaru Usman (20-3), UFC president Dana White confirmed his next challenger: Colby Covington.
Covington (17-3) was tipped as the reserve fighter for the main event, and now, the former interim titlist will have a third shot at the full title. He previously failed in two hotly contested fights against Usman, but remains at the top of the welterweight rankings.
The brash Covington hasn’t fought since March 2022 when he beat rival Jorge Masvidal by decision. Masvidal assaulted Covington outside a Miami club in the aftermath of that bout, and the two remain in litigation as Masvidal faces felony charges.
White made it clear that Covington was the next man up for the title, in spite of his previous defeats:
“He deserves the fight. Not to mention that he’s the second- or third-best guy in the world.”
This news, however, isn’t exactly setting the MMA world on fire.
Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington is uninspired matchmaking
Truth is, Covington has been inactive and not pursuing fights to merit his high ranking. The division is wide open with Usman’s unseating, and Edwards shouldn’t have to move on to his leftovers’ leftovers.
Edwards seems to agree with me:
“He hasn’t fought for over a year-and-a-half. Sat out. Not injured. I don’t get how he just slides in for the world title shot when there’s other guys in the division that have been active and fighting. Didn’t sit out. I’m the king now. I’ve earned my way, so I feel like I should decide who’s next.”
Also, Covington got called out by Belal Muhmmad for turning down a fight with him at UFC 286 so he can get the backup spot for the main event. Muhammad has repeatedly challenged Covington, who wants nothing to do with the #4 ranked welterweight as it seems.
The fight Edwards does want? A high-stakes grudge match with Masvidal, should the beleaguered “Gamebred” get past Gilbert Burns at UFC 287.
“If Masvidal beats Burns, that’s the fight to make.”