Covington hasn’t been in action for over a year. After falling short of capturing the 170-pound gold at UFC 245 in 2019, “Chaos” looked to rebound against former champion Tyron Woodley last September.
In the UFC Vegas 11 main event, Covington capitalized on Woodley’s gun-shy struggle and dominated for four-and-a-half rounds. In the final frame, the former interim champ secured a TKO finish after “The Chosen One” appeared to suffer a rib injury during an exchange on the ground.
Most would have expected Covington to have fought at least once more before securing a second crack at dethroning Kamaru Usman. However, after over 12 months on the sidelines, “Chaos” will run it back with “The Nigerian Nightmare” at UFC 268. While the majority in the MMA community will be excited for the matchup, many have pointed out the inconsistencies in the promotion’s attitude towards other contenders.
Leon Edwards appears to have been the most hard done by. “Rocky” is unbeaten in 10 fights since a 2015 defeat to the current champ. After the Englishman’s victory over Nate Diaz in June, UFC President Dana White reiterated that Covington was still next in line, and suggested Edwards should remain active in order to ensure a title shot. White also recently had the same words for Carla Esparza, who was snubbed for a championship opportunity despite a five-fight win streak that’s seen her defeat most top contenders at strawweight.
While the UFC held that energy for Edwards and Esparza, Covington received a second title shot despite having only entered the Octagon once since his December 2019 loss to Usman. He also arguably fought a declining Woodley who was below a host of other contenders at the time.
However, according to Covington, his inactivity hasn’t been through fault of his own. During a recent interview with ESPN MMA, the 33-year-old stated that no one wanted to fight him. That apparently includes Jorge Masvidal, who Covington claims declined a grudge match with him.
“Yeah, the fact is no one wanted to fight me. Go to Hunter Campbell. Go to Dana White. Ask them the truth. No one would fight me. Street Judas Masvidal, they wanted to make this big hype fight, oh, ‘Best Friends Turned Rivals.’ We hate each other’s guts now. He was running his mouth in the media saying oh, this and that, ‘Oh, I’ll drop Colby on sight. This guy’s fragile. Blah, blah, blah.’ There’s no one more fragile than Street Judas Masvidal. Is he even awake yet? Or is he still sleeping from the last time he fought Usman? So I was trying to put on the big and best fights for the UFC. No one wanted to take the bait, so now we are here, and we get the best fight in the welterweight division.”
While Covington claims he wanted to fight during the past year but couldn’t find a top opponent willing to meet him in the cage, Edwards may have something to say about that. In February, “Chaos” rejected the idea of a potential matchup with the #3-ranked contender, saying the Englishman was “irrelevant,” and that he was only interested in fighting at “the top of the mountain.”
#2-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns also appeared interested in a clash with Covington. Following his own defeat to Usman, “Durinho” repeatedly called the Californian out on Twitter. With that said, Covington’s claims that no one wanted to fight him can certainly be disputed.
Nevertheless, Covington will be back in action on November 6. His blockbuster rematch with “The Nigerian Nightmare” will headline UFC 268, which will take place inside New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Having fallen to a fifth-round TKO when they first fought, Covington will be looking to exact revenge on the champion next month, and leave the Octagon with the welterweight gold wrapped around his waist.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 268, Colby Covington or Kamaru Usman?