Missing out on one fight could lead to Leon Edwards getting an even bigger opportunity.
This week, Edwards saw his his main event matchup with Khamzat Chimaev canceled for a third time due to Chimaev dealing with COVID-19 complications. The two welterweight contenders were scheduled to headline a UFC card on March 13.
Edwards has not officially been removed from the card, so there’s still a chance a new opponent is found for him. At a scrum on Friday following the official UFC 258 weigh-ins and staredowns, UFC President Dana White said he would like to see Edwards fight Colby Covington now.
Covington is a former interim welterweight titleholder who battled Kamaru Usman for the undisputed title at UFC 245, falling short by fifth-round TKO. Edwards is currently on eight-fight win streak. Should this matchup be made, White thinks that the winner would go on to challenge Usman for the welterweight belt.
“I think what we do now with what happened to Khamzat, we’re looking at Colby vs. Leon,” White said. “The winner of that fight would fight Usman next.”
“In this world we’re living in now, things change every minute,” White added when asked if this meant a matchup between Covington and Jorge Masvidal was out of the question. “Khamzat, fought three times in three weeks and now we can’t get the guy a fight in three months. So you’ve got to just kind of roll with it.”
Edwards and Chimaev were first scheduled to fight on Dec. 19, but Edwards tested positive for COVID-19 and the bout was later re-booked for Jan. 20. The second booking was then postponed when Chimaev tested positive for COVID-19. Lingering health issues caused Chimaev’s recent withdrawal and it now appears that the UFC is moving on from the matchup.
White questioned whether Chimaev was taking all the necessary precautions to recover from the virus.
“I think that he didn’t get—If you know this guy’s mentality, he probably didn’t listen,” White said. “He probably didn’t do what he was supposed to do. Definitely not getting the best health care he could possibly get. I’m gonna try to get him out here, get him with some real doctors, get him taken care of, and then get him set again.”
A potential Edwards-Covington matchup is not a done deal yet, according to White, but it’s what he’d like to see for Edwards, who has not fought since beating Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision in July 2019. “Rocky” was in talks for several potential matchups in 2020 before it was announced that he would be fighting the unbeaten Chimaev.
“[Edwards-Covington is] what makes sense right now,” White said. “Listen, for a guy like Leon, Leon accepts the fight with a No. 15-ranked guy who is a savage, nobody else wants to fight this guy. He accepts the fight, the fight keeps falling out left and right, now this happens to him. We gotta go this way with Leon, not this way. To show the kid the respect he deserves in stepping up and taking these fights and doing what he’s done. Get him the right fight.”