Colby Covington (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington: UFC 296 preview

Leon Edwards will defend his UFC welterweight title for the second time at UFC 296. There has been huge anticipation around who will get the chance to challenge Edwards, following his successive victories against Kamaru Usman. It is now official that Colby Covington will fight Edwards in Las Vegas in December.

There is certainly doubt around whether Covington has a realistic chance against the champion. However, Sean O’Malley’s victory over Aljamain Sterling and Sean Strickland’s victory against Israel Adesanya highlighted the unpredictable nature of the sport, and perhaps have started a string of high-profile upsets. 


Edwards will be the favorite

Edwards will undoubtedly enter the fight as the favorite. He will be facing an opponent who has lost to  Usman on both of the occasions that they met. The Englishman, of course, defeated Usman in back-to-back fights, with the second bout showcasing massive improvements from the new champion.

With an 11-fight win streak, and his last loss coming from Usman back in 2015, Edwards will likely continue to be favorite ahead of the fight. Odds for fights are regularly updated, especially around major events, but the best bets of the day at The Game Day will suggest ideal selections come fight night, as well as all the other exciting upcoming cards. 

How can Covington learn from Usman? 

Many would argue that Covington is not of the merit to fight Edwards, based on the fact he could not beat the predecessor of the welterweight title. However, Covington hasn’t been an easy fight for anyone and possesses a lot of the same qualities that gave Leon trouble against Usman. 

Edwards can start very slow and struggle to find his flow. This was evident in the second Usman fight and if it wasn’t for his miracle headkick, he would’ve been comfortably beaten in each and every round. Leon adjusted for their third fight and looked comfortable on the backfoot, but prefers to have control on the feet and counter punch. 

Covington will have to apply constant pressure to Edwards and not afford him time and space if he is to have a genuine chance in December. Strickland’s remarkable UFC 293 victory could also be used as inspiration, but Covington will likely need a finish on Edwards, as his inevitable striking advantage is likely to see him fare well on the judges’ cards. 

Covington is a much more agile and nimble fighter than Usman – albeit he has less power in striking. Usman tried to repeatedly take down Edwards back in March, but Edwards responded with counterstrikes and excellent takedown defense more often than not. 

The pair make an interesting match stylistically

An exceptional kickboxer meeting an incredibly strong wrestler often creates an intriguing contest. Edwards may have passed the Usman test twice seen at ESPN, but he was given warning signs on several occasions during the fights. 

Like Usman, Covington can do a bit of everything. He’s strong in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a great striker, and has relentless wrestling. If he can combine his skills like Usman did in their second fight, he can keep the champion guessing and nullify his dangerous striking ability. 

He also has the added speed and reactiveness that Usman lacked. If the fight takes place on their feet, then Covington will be no match for the title holder. But if Covington can launch some successful takedowns early on, then he could lay some potential foundations for a title-claiming night.

The UFC 296 headline event will be Edward’s to lose. But nobody can be completely ruled out in the UFC. Covington has the chance of a lifetime, and he must leave the octagon with no regrets.