Leon Edwards barely had the chance to leave the octagon after celebrating his second win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 before he heard the news that his next opponent had already been chosen.
At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White declared that Colby Covington was the new No. 1 contender in the welterweight division after he traveled to England to serve as the backup for the main event. Covington last fought in March 2022 when he earned a unanimous decision win over Jorge Masvidal that brought his record to 2-2 over his past four fights with both losses coming to Usman in previous title bouts.
After hearing that news, Edwards was nothing short of confused that Covington would get a crack at his title, especially after his long absence and inactivity over the past year.
“I don’t know how that makes sense,” Edwards said. “He hasn’t fought for over a year and a half. Sat out, not injured, I just don’t get how he just slides in for the world title shot when there’s other guys in the division that’s been active, been fighting, didn’t sit out.
“Like I said, I’m the king now. I’ve earned my way. I feel I should decide who’s next.”
In a perfect world, Edwards would like to settle an old grudge with Jorge Masvidal, who is set to compete against Gilbert Burns in the UFC 287 co-main event in April.
Edwards’ history with Masvidal dates back to 2019 when the welterweights both picked up wins at a UFC card in London. During Masvidal’s post fight interview, Edwards shouted something at him about setting up a potential fight between them.
Masvidal ended up leaving the interview to confront Edwards before punches were thrown as security rushed to separate the fighters before a brawl broke out backstage. Ever since that time, Edwards has been gunning for a fight against Masvidal, although the UFC never opted to book the fight.
Now that he’s champion, Edwards believes it would be a great time to get his revenge against a popular draw in Masvidal if he can get past Burns at UFC 287. Even if Masvidal loses, Edwards still doesn’t see how Covington would get the next shot.
“If we go pay-per-view wise, I’d probably go if Masvidal beats Burns, that’s the fight to make,” Edwards said. “If you’re going pay-per-view wise but I just don’t see how Colby sits out for a year, not injured and then just slides in for a title shot when I had to win 12 fights to get there.
“When I was trying to get my title shot, they’re always saying who is he and I don’t know who he is and now I’m the king. Now he’s allowed to just jump the line and just jump straight in? Like I said, I’m the king now. I’ll decide who’s next.”
On paper, Masvidal probably hasn’t done enough to warrant a title shot over more deserving fighters like Belal Muhammad, who is currently riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak while also having a no contest on his record from a past encounter with Edwards.
That said, Masvidal has a past with Edwards that might help him leapfrog the competition because that’s just a beef the reigning UFC champion really wants to finish.
“I just don’t like [Masvidal] so I feel like that’s the one I need to get back,” Edwards said. “There’s a storyline there to tell. If he gets the job done, I’ll have a look, I’ll consider it and if he begs me, I might let him slide in here.
“For him, I just don’t like him. I think he’s a weirdo. I don’t know what to say about him. The only reason I would give him the shot is because I don’t like him. That’s it. I think it would be an easy fight for me and that’s it. He’s just a weirdo.”
Considering the bad blood and the footage from that backstage altercation, Edwards knows a fight with Masvidal would be an easy sell, especially if the UFC is looking to build a pay-per-view around them.
According to Edwards, the same can’t be said about a potential fight with Covington, who might talk a lot of trash to try and build interest but ultimately there’s just no rivalry there.
“There’s a storyline for that fight [against Masvidal],” Edwards said. “With the Colby fight, there’s literally no storylines. The guy sat out for a year and then slid into a title shot. It’s weird.”