Leon Edwards is standing firm in his response to Colby Covington being his next challenger: It ain’t happening.
The UFC welterweight champion appeared on The MMA Hour following his majority decision win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 in London. Edwards improved to 2-1 in his series against Usman, seemingly putting a lid on that rivalry, and shortly after UFC President Dana White announced that Covington will be the next challenger for Edwards’ title.
Covington has twice challenge for the title and he weighed in as the backup for this past Saturday’s main event, but Edwards expressed skepticism at the UFC 286 post-fight press conference that Covington was deserving of another championship opportunity and he elaborated on that sentiment on Monday.
“I definitely have a say,” Edwards said. “Listen, he ain’t getting a title shot next fight. Look at the road I had to take to get there. There’s no way you’re getting beat twice by the guy that I just beat twice, went out and beat Masvidal, and then sit out for a year and a half, not even tweeting or nothing, just go missing for a year and then randomly pops up at the weigh-ins and it’s like, ‘OK, he’s fighting for the title next.’ It makes no sense at all, so let’s see how it plays out. He has to go out there and earn his way like I had to do.
“Khamzat [Chimaev] and me were calling each other out for years. This is a guy that I got matched up with three times in a row. I took the [Chimaev] fight and [Covington] didn’t take the fight and he’s getting rewarded for not taking the fight. When it was me, I got removed from the rankings. So ‘Dana White privilege’ is definitely real.”
That Covington is in play at all is bewildering to Edwards, who has now gone unbeaten in 12 straight appearances and last lost in December 2015. According to the English star, he wasn’t even aware that Covington was pegged as a replacement fighter until “Chaos” stepped to the scale this past Friday morning.
“I found out on the weigh-in day when I saw on Twitter that Colby Covington weighed in, I was like, ‘What? What’s he weighing in for?’” Edwards said. “Then obviously it makes sense that he was the backup fighter.”
Edwards reiterated that “it makes no sense” for Covington to get the shot, given his recent inactivity. Covington most recently fought at UFC 272 in March 2022, where he won a lopsided decision over hated rival Jorge Masvidal. Not long after their fight, Masvidal allegedly assaulted Covington outside of a Miami restaurant, leading to charges that are still in litigation.
That hasn’t stopped Covington and Masvidal from booking fights as Covington was one mishap away from stepping into the main event of UFC 286 and Masvidal is set to fight Gilbert Burns at UFC 287 on April 8.
The whole situation is confusing for the Edwards.
“It makes no sense,” Edwards said. “[Covington] ain’t done much. He’s coming off of a loss then he beats Masvidal. Sat out for, like, a year and a half, went to court, I still don’t get the case for him to fight for a title, they’re trying to make it, it doesn’t make sense to me at all.”
That said, Edwards isn’t ruling out a fight with Covington altogether, he just doesn’t see what separates him from the rest of the welterweight pack. Edwards hasn’t named a particular opponent he’d like to see in his next defense, but knows for sure that Covington has more work to do to step into that spot.
“I feel like he needs at least one more fight,” Edwards said. “Everyone else is fighting and working their way to get to a title shot, so why should he be sitting out for a year not doing nothing and then randomly slide into the title shot? I feel like he should go out there and fight one of the top 5 guys, top 6 guys, and we’ll go from there.
“There’s literally no clear contender right now and I feel like they’re all one fight away from the world title. So I’ll sit back on my throne and have a look.”