Kamaru Usman: Colby Covington made ‘tremendous mistake’ not fighting Leon Edwards
After Khamzat Chimaev fell out of his UFC Fight Night headliner vs. Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) on March 13 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White said he was interested in having Covington (16-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) step in as a replacement.
That failed to materialize, and Belal Muhammad ended up taking the fight. Covington, for his part, said fighting Edwards would be nothing more than “charity,” despite both being highly ranked in the welterweight division.
Reigning champion Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) wasn’t impressed by Covington’s dismissal of the bout, and argues he made a grave error.
“I think he made a huge mistake, a tremendous mistake,” Usman told MMA Junkie. “Who turns down a paycheck? He turned down a paycheck. That’s horrible. You can’t do that. I mean, maybe he’s not hurting for money. But you can’t turn down a paycheck. Then on top of it, you turned down a chance to really remind the fans.
‘I understand, you’ve got to win. But that’s one win in how long? (Tyron) Woodley’s coming off a two-fight, three-fight skid. It’s a tough one to basically say, ‘Oh, all right, you’ve got one win. You’re back in.’ For a guy that’s coming off a two, three-fight skid, that was a tough one.”
Covington appears to think he should be next in line to challenge Usman for 170-pound gold. The pair put on a “Fight of the Year” contender at UFC 245 in December 2019, with Usman scoring a fifth-round TKO in the most competitive fight of his UFC career thus far.
A rematch between the two sides seemed inevitable, but Usman doesn’t appear content allowing Covington to wait around. He’s had just one fight in the 14 months since they shared the octagon – a fifth-round TKO of Woodley in September – and in Usman’s mind, that’s not enough.
Had Covington agreed to fight Edwards, however, Usman said that would’ve changed his perspective about running it back with his rival. But for now his focus appears to be rematching Jorge Masvidal instead.
“For you to sit here and demand, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve done enough. I demand a shot’ … First of all, you weren’t (the UFC’s) favorite in the first place,” Usman said. “You’re not. So you can’t sit here (and say that). It’s not that you’re selling mad pay-per-per views. You don’t really do that, as well. So for you to sit here and demand something like that, I think it’s ridiculous. I think the best way for you to solidify your title shot is to go out there and fight.
“And what better way than to knock off the No. 3 (ranked) guy? He’s on his way up. He’s making the claim to the throne that he deserves that shot. What better way than to knock him off? He failed to do that and I think he made a tremendous mistake.”
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