Dana White is still trying to justify his decision to slot Colby Covington in as the next title challenger for welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
Covington surprised everyone when he showed up at the UFC 286 weigh-ins to play back-up in case any issues arose with the Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman main event. His services weren’t needed, but White cited Colby’s willingness to come to London and make weight as one of several reasons why “Chaos” deserved a title shot.
Even if Colby wasn’t one of the most hated fighters on the UFC roster, a lot of people would have still questioned the decision to give him another crack at the welterweight title. Leon Edwards himself flatly dismissed the idea of fighting Covington next, repeatedly saying he wouldn’t do it.
At the UFC on ESPN: Vera vs. Sandhagen post-fight press conference, White addressed Edwards’ refusal to accept his matchmaking.
“Listen, it’s not like I’m a big ‘Oh Colby!’ Colby Covington deserves this shot at the title,” White said. “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. When you become the champ, everybody’s coming after you. All the straight killers are coming after you for the next three times a f—king year.
“You’re faced with nothing but the baddest dudes in the world in your division. If you look at Usman and 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. And everyone’s coming after you, and it’s going to be Colby next.”
But what about Covington’s year-long absence, or his seeming unwillingness to face other welterweight contenders like Khamzat Chimaev or Belal Muhammad? Does “Chaos” really deserve a fourth title shot off a singular win over Jorge Masvidal since his last go at the belt? White didn’t address these questions but did give some insight into his thought process.
“If Usman doesn’t exist, Colby’s been the champ now for a while,” Dana said. “He’s been there forever. He cut the weight. He showed up to fill in for that fight and a million other reasons why he deserves that fight.”
This isn’t the first time the UFC president has said Colby would have been the undisputed welterweight champion if it weren’t for that darned Kamaru Usman. So he’s not looking at Covington’s recent record (or lack thereof) and comparing it to the records of other top UFC welterweights like Belal Muhammad when making his decision. “Chaos” exists in White’s mind as a perennial number one contender, so it makes perfect sense that he’d get the call after Usman was toppled.
Of course, it’s pretty easy to hold onto that perception as a top dog when you refuse to fight anyone other than the champion or stylistically advantageous opponents. But we can’t hate on Colby for gaming the system when it’s clearly working out so well for him.