After the conclusion of the main event of UFC 286, many have speculated who could be the next opponent for current welterweight champion Leon Edwards after he defended his title against Kamaru Usman Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London, England. However, welterweight fighter Colby “Chaos” Covington always stood out above the rest.
Covington surprised pretty much everyone Friday when he made an appearance at the UFC 286 weigh-ins as a backup fighter. Rumors were circulating that Covington made the trip overseas just in case there were any issues regarding Usman making weight for the fight.
Covington made the trip and weighed in as a backup fighter for the fight. Covington was also in attendance for the fight, and as always drew the attention of the sold out crowd in attendance. After the conclusion of the main event in which Edwards won by majority decision, Colby tweeted out that he should be next in line for a chance at the UFC welterweight championship of the world.
Colby Covington wants next at IFW 👀 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/2ugH2nHpBm
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 19, 2023
UFC President Dana White spoke to the media after the conclusion of UFC 286 and confirmed that a potential fight between current welterweight champion Leon Edwards and Colby Covington will indeed happen in the near future. White also took it a step further saying that Colby deserves a shot at the gold.
Dana White announced during the #UFC286 post-fight press conference that Colby Covington will get a title shot next against Leon Edwards 👀
WHAT A MATCHUP 🔥 pic.twitter.com/JHAIHZvd5z
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 19, 2023
After Dana White broke the news of Colby Covington being Edwards next opponent, Leon gave his own opinion about the matter.
Leon Edwards on Colby Covington getting the next title shot: “I don’t know how that makes sense" 🏆 #UFC286
"I’m the king now. I’ve earned my way, so I feel like I should decide who’s next.” pic.twitter.com/d79iv51Z5V
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 19, 2023
It didn’t stop there, in an interview Edwards did with the MMA Hour, a podcast hosted by Ariel Helwani, Edwards expressed that Colby is being rewarded despite not being active for over a year and a half and if he was presented a contract to fight Covington, he is likely to not sign it.
Leon Edwards says that if he is presented with a contract for Colby Covington, he will NOT sign it.
He also says that he will likely have his next fight will be around late summer.
via The MMA Hour pic.twitter.com/rDU1Nxeoza
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) March 20, 2023
No disrespect to Covington, he’s one of the best fighters in the UFC welterweight division. However, giving him a championship fight considering that he hasn’t fought in over a year and a half is a slap in the face to the fighters who have stayed active and grinded to get where they are. The last time Covington fought was back at UFC 272 in March of 2022 when he won a lopsided affair against current rival Jorge Masvidal. Since then, he hasn’t fought anyone.
Edwards claims that Covington getting a title shot handed to him is an example of the “Dana White privilege” and honestly this is true. Giving someone a title shot despite being inactive for a long time seems like an example of Dana White doing favorites for specific fighters. Covington has a passionate fan base, some may argue it’s a loud one but Dana is doing a disservice for the UFC if he allows this fight to happen.
Welterweights Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns have been far more active than Covington and deserve an opportunity to fight for the gold. It took Leon a while to get a shot at the welterweight crown, considering at one point he was removed from the rankings back in 2020 due to being inactive and he had to work his way back up the rankings.
Edwards also took the opportunity to fight against current welterweight Khamzat Chimaev but the fights never happened due to various reasons. Covington on the other hand chose not to fight Chimaev and Chimaev has stated multiple times Covington doesn’t want to fight him despite Covington slandering him for no reason.
Khamzat Chimaev says he accepted a fight against Colby Covington, but Covington "doesn't want to fight" 👀
📰 https://t.co/wbzUNomKFJ pic.twitter.com/xTzYWGjFD2
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 20, 2023
If Edwards and Covington were to fight, chances are Covington would be the favorite according to multiple sporting book sites. But giving Covington a title shot for not doing anything seems like a disservice. Covington has held the title before, but on an interim basis. Overall, he’s a good fighter but not one of the best fighters ever. It wouldn’t hurt for Covington to fight someone in the top 10 to see where he’s at, but it’s likely not going to happen. Covington is likely going to get a title match but in all fairness it’s an opportunity that he doesn’t deserve.