Las Vegas, NV — Dana White has big things planned for top welterweight Leon Edwards.
Edwards has been paired up with Khamzat Chimaev several times, only for the bout to fall through time and again. First, Edwards contracted COVID-19. Then, Khamzat Chimaev did. And he continues to suffer from the after effects, resulting in their headlining bout on March 13 being cancelled.
Edwards has not fought since 2019, and has seen multiple fights and an entire event — last year’s UFC London card — fall through due to the pandemic. White, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press on Friday, seems keen on making it up to a fighter who has proved game to take on anyone.
“I think what we do now, with what happened to Khamzat, we’re looking at Colby [Covington] vs. Leon. The winner of that fight would fight Usman next.” That’s big news, and puts Edwards a win away from the title fight he has long desired. The Brit currently sits on an eight-fight win streak. A victory over Covington, a former title challenger and interim champ, would make his number one contender claim undeniable.
So much for the idea of Covington and Jorge Masvidal coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. “In this world we’re living in now, things change every minute,” White pointed out. “Khamzat fought three times in three weeks, now you can’t get the guy a fight in three months. You just got to kind of roll with it.”
In short, Edwards vs. Covington, “that’s what makes sense right now.”
“For a guy like Leon, Leon accepts the fight with the number 15 ranked guy who is a savage, nobody else wants to fight this guy,” added the UFC President. “He accepts the fight, the fight keeps falling out left and right. Now this happens to him. We’ve got to go this way [pointing up] with Leon, not this way [pointing down].” That, said White, simply “to show the kid the respect he deserves in stepping up and taking these fights and doing what he’s done. Get him the right fight.”
“We’ll figure TUF out,” he added.
While it’s not set in stone, there’s a possibility Covington could step into the March 13 date on short notice. “I think Colby’s been training anyway. I think Colby’s ready to fight. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
White assured media members that there was no concern long term about Khamzat’s health. “If you know this guy’s mentality, he probably didn’t listen, probably didn’t do what he was supposed to do. Definitely not getting the best health care he could possibly get. We’re going to try to get him out here, get him with some real doctors, get him taken care of, and get him set again.”