Leon Edwards barely had time to celebrate his second win over Kamaru Usman before he was already being told that his next title defense will come against Colby Covington.
The two-time title challenger served as the backup for Edwards’ fight against Usman, and afterward UFC president Dana White declared him as the No. 1 contender. On both fight night and this past Monday, Edwards scoffed at Covington as his next opponent, particularly because the always outspoken welterweight has been out for the past year while riding a one-fight win streak with two losses to Usman on his résumé.
Edwards has even gone as far as saying he won’t accept the Covington fight if it’s officially offered to him, but UFC veteran Matt Brown believes that’s a mistake.
“I heard Leon basically say he’s going to not accept it or try to fight against it. But I think for Leon, Colby is probably one of the best fights for him out there,” Brown explained on Tuesday’s episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I think Belal [Muhammad], I think Shavkat [Rakhmonov], a lot of these other guys are tougher matchups for him. For Leon, in my opinion, it’s a little bit of a blessing.”
While Covington has remained a stalwart near the top of the rankings in the welterweight division, his last two wins came against Masvidal and ex-UFC champion Tyron Woodley — two opponents with a combined 0-7 record in their past seven fights.
He also has two losses to Usman, the former champ Edwards has now beaten twice. Brown believes Covington simply presents a more winnable fight for the reigning UFC champion.
“I think it’s a better fight for Leon than the other guys,” Brown said. “Colby leaves a lot of holes in his game. He certainly has the volume, he comes forward and presses the action a lot, but we don’t have any reason to believe — and we’re shocked every week we watch the fights, we’re just doing the best we can, I was very shocked last weekend — but if Usman isn’t taking Leon down, I don’t think Colby’s going to be taking him down.
“Colby leaves tons of holes in his standup game and I think Leon’s good enough to expose those holes. I think it’s a better matchup for Leon. Saying that he’s not going to accept this fight, but I think he should if you ask me.”
As confident as Covington might be, Brown feels like there are plenty of areas where Edwards can take advantage in the matchup while also gaining a lot of eyes against an opponent who loves to draw the spotlight to himself.
It may not be the biggest fight possible, but Brown knows Covington will get people to tune in to watch — and that will only benefit Edwards in the end, especially if he vanquishes yet another challenger coming for his title.
“With that high pace that Colby pushes, he leaves himself open,” Brown said. “He’s relying on his cardio. He’s relying on you just having a barrage of punches and not dealing with that well. I just think Leon will deal with that well, with the holes in the striking particularly, and be able to expose him. I don’t know if he’ll be able to knock him out. Colby, he could prove us wrong. I’m proved wrong all the time on breakdowns. All the time. Maybe Colby will be able to take him down and wear him out, but I’m not seeing it right now.
“We’ll all watch the fight. That’s what it all comes down to. Colby’s going to make it a fun fight. He’s going to make it a fun press conference to lead up to it. He’s saying to say some off the wall crazy s***. I know what’s going to happen. We’re going to watch the fight. We’re going to be excited and Colby definitely has a great chance to win that fight. His style, I think against anyone, gives pretty much anybody problems. I just think Leon’s going to be the favorite — and rightfully so.”
While it appears Covington may get the next title shot, Brown admits the real person with a complaint worth lodging is Belal Muhammad after going undefeated in his past nine fights, including wins over Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, and Sean Brady.
“How Belal Muhammad got passed up is beyond me,” Brown said. “This guy has done every single thing necessary. We can strike the word deserves down, but he f****** deserves it. What else can we say?
“This guy Belal, he’s just done everything. This could be a championship run that he’s on right now. He just doesn’t have that belt. He’s fighting guys like Shavkat [Rakhmonov]. He’s done everything. I think Belal deserves it. I think everyone agrees.”
Listen to new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer with Matt Brown and Damon Martin every Tuesday. The podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.