Leon Edwards names preferred next opponent and sends message to Conor McGregor
Leon Edwards is not convinced Colby Covington deserves a shot at his UFC welterweight title and would rather settle an old score with Jorge Masvidal next.
The Birmingham fighter defended his title with a majority decision win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 286.
It was the third meeting between the old rivals, with Edwards winning the second with a brutal knockout last August to win the belt before going the distance and getting the win on the judges’ scorecards in London on Saturday night.
It draws a line under the rivalry with Edwards looking to move on with his career. Speaking after the fight, Dana White confirmed Covington, who was watching on from ringside in the capital, is next in line for the title shot.
Covington has not fought since a unanimous decision win over Masvidal in March 2022 and while he has White’s endorsement, Edwards was baffled as to why the American is next in line.
‘I don’t know how that makes sense,’ Edwards told a press conference.
‘He hasn’t fought for a over a year. He’s been sat out, not injured, I just don’t get how he just slides in for the world title shot when there are other guys who have been active and fighting.
‘I feel like I’ve earned my way so I feel I should decide who I fight next.’
Edwards has a history with Masvidal, brawling with the Florida fighter backstage at the O2 Arena back in 2019 with a fight between the two failing to materialise last year.
Masvidal is set to take on Gilbert Burns in April and should ‘Gamebred’ get through that challenge, Edwards would prefer to see him get the nod over Covington.
‘If we are going pay-per-view wise, if Masvidal beats Burns then that’s the fight to make,’ he said.
‘But I just don’t see how Colby sits out for a year, not injured, and just slides in. I had to work through 12 fights to get here. When I was trying to get my title shot people were saying, “who is he?”
‘Now I’m the king. And he’s allowed to jump the line? Like I said, I’m the king. I’ll decide who is next.’
On Masvidal, he added: ‘I just don’t like him. So I feel that’s the one that should be made. There is a storyline there to tell. If he gets the job done I’ll consider it, if he begs me I might let him slide in.’
Conor McGregor meanwhile is set to make his long awaited return to the cage with a bout against Michael Chandler slated for August.
‘Notorious’ will make his return at welterweight and has designs on becoming a three-weight world champion. A bout against McGregor would represent a hugely lucrative option for Edwards who welcomed talk of that fight taking place – but insists the Irishman must ‘prove his case’ in the division first.
‘Anyone can get it,’ Edwards said. ‘Prove your case in the division and I’ll give you a title shot. I want to be an active champion, I’m only young so I want to be fighting. So if he proves his case, I will fight him.’
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