The most obvious scenario for new UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards’ first title defense is a trilogy with Kamaru Usman, whom he defeated in stunning fashion just 10 days ago at UFC 278.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options.
For starters, while Edwards has stated that Usman is “deserving” of an immediate trilogy after making five consecutive title defenses, the champ also said he’d be willing to give title shots to Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz under certain circumstances.
The condition for Diaz, who is fighting out of his UFC contract, was if he’s able to beat the highly hyped and undefeated Khamzat Chimaev next week at UFC 279. It’s no secret that Chimaev has been one of UFC president Dana White’s favorite fighters since he joined the promotion in 2020.
So if Chimaev does what is expected and beats Diaz, then Edwards’ coach, Dave Lovell, believes Chimaev could be in line for a shot at the belt.
“If he does beat Nate and manages to beat Nate in a bad fashion and retire him, I think somehow they’ll be looking to slip him somewhere down the line,” Lovell told MMA Junkie.
One potential option that Lovell doesn’t care for is Colby Covington, who finds himself in a quandary of sorts. Covington is No. 3 in the official UFC rankings behind Edwards and Usman, with the latter owning two wins over Covington.
In the past, Covington, who beat Masvidal this past March, has disregarded and disrespected Edwards, calling him “Leon Scott” as if he was a nobody. But now Edwards is the champion, and Lovell has a direct message for Covington.
“Colby, you little redneck, you can stay longer,” Lovell said. “It’s (Leon’s) time to talk. It’s his time to let these so-called big mouths – Colby called him what? Didn’t even call him by his name. What was he calling him? Leon Scott? Well, I’ve got news for him now. It’s not Leon Scott. Call him Sir Leon Scott from this day on.
“When we get around to you (Covington), we’ll deal with you, mate.”