Home/News/Can Leon Edwards push back on Colby Covington?

Can Leon Edwards push back on Colby Covington?

By |Published On: March 19, 2023|0 Comments|

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Let’s be frank here: This whole Colby Covington thing is kind of weird. We hadn’t heard from the former interim UFC champion for the better part of a year, then he resurfaced out of the blue at official weigh-ins as the backup fighter for Edwards vs. Usman 3.

Then as soon as Edwards defended the belt, the idea of Covington as the No. 1 contender was relentlessly pushed. He got the split-screen treatment during Edwards’ post-fight interview, was interviewed backstage directly after the main event and then repeatedly mentioned as a potential foe.

Perhaps the most jarring comments came from UFC president Dana White, who insisted Covington “deserves” the next shot while shutting down every other suggestion thrown his way. If you’ve been following this sport long enough, you know “deserves” is one of the most hallowed words in the UFC world.

We know by now this company is not run as a meritocracy. If it was, Edwards would’ve had his title shot well before he finally got it. Belal Muhammad would probably be next in line for Edwards now. But that’s not the world we live in.

Instead it’s Covington, who hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision win over Jorge Masvidal in their heated grudge match at UFC 272 in March 2022. Later, Masvidal allegedly attacked Covington at a Miami hot spot in the weeks after the bout.

We are not ignorant to the realities. Whether you love him or hate him, Covington draws more intrigue than most other contenders at 170 pounds. He is going to promote the title fight against Edwards with every fiber of his being, and that’s what the UFC wants, of course.

But to pretend he “deserves” the shot more than his contemporaries is puzzling. Covington hasn’t beaten an opponent coming off a win since Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 225 in June 2018. His past three fighters he’s defeated in Masvidal, Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler were all on multi-fight losing skids going into the matchups. Those are just the facts.

Edwards made it clear he feels the same way. Much to the champ’s credit, he did not simply roll over to the idea, and raised some valid questions about Covington’s worthiness as his next challenger.

Edwards is well within his right to point out the flaws in Covington’s title shot, but at the end of the day, this is what the UFC wants. And more often than not what the promotion wants, it gets. How much resistence will Edwards and his team ultimately be willing to put up to force plans in a different direction? That’s the critical question that will have repercussions on the UFC welterweight division.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.

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