Dana White was on hand as the UFC returned to San Antonio, Texas on Saturday night, where Cory Sandhagen re-entered the bantamweight title picture care of a lop-sided win against Marlon “Chito” Vera.
There was another title up for discussion following the event, however: the welterweight championship.
Just a week ago, Leon Edwards defeated Kamaru Usman for the second time to retain 170lb gold. Breaking one of his cardinal rules, UFC President White did a bit of matchmaking following that fight at UFC 286, announcing that Colby Covington would get the next crack at Edwards.
The news turned plenty of heads and was met with resistance from Edwards himself. Despite the champ’s concerns, and that of fans who believe Covington is undeserving of a third shot at gold, White defended the decision on Saturday.
“Why would Colby not deserve the fight? Can somebody explain that to me?” White questioned when it was suggested during UFC San Antonio’s post-fight press conference that Covington didn’t deserve a title shot. When Covington’s lack of activity was brought up, White was quick to dismiss that concern.
“He got jumped, and was actually injured from it. Leon didn’t fight for like almost two years, he got the shot,” White replied.
Covington was assaulted by Jorge Masvidal outside a Miami eatery last year, just weeks out from defeating “Gamebred” at UFC 272. He allegedly suffered a broken tooth in the altercation.
“Colby Covington— listen, it’s not like I’m a big ‘oh Colby, Colby!’ Colby Covington deserves the shot, in fact. And I don’t blame Leon. Leon just got through Usman twice and now he’s looking at another wrestler with a funky style that’s tough to deal with,” White continued. “But that’s it. When you become the champ, everybody’s coming after you. All the straight killers are coming at you for the next, three times a f*cking year, you’re faced with nothing but the baddest dudes in the world in your division. It’s just part of the— if you look at Usman, what he did, Usman ran through that division twice. Usman’s one of the greatest of all time. Leon just beat him twice.”
“You’re the man, Leon. You’re the guy. Everybody’s coming after you, and it’s going to be Colby next.”
As for the idea that Belal Muhammad is more deserving — an argument floated by former double champ and current UFC broadcaster Daniel Cormier — White responded by saying that Muhammad would be fighting soon to determine who comes next after Covington.
“Belal’s going to fight again soon, and then we’ll find out who’s in line.”
White previously confirmed that Muhammad is expected to face Shavkat Rakhmonov.