Last Chance Saloon for Colby Covington at UFC 296
Colby Covington will compete in his six straight main event when he takes on Leon Edwards for the welterweight strap at UFC 296. Last time out, Covington defeated Jorge Masvidal in the main event of last year’s annual MSG card in a one-sided decision victory over five rounds. Despite having his hand raised in his last outing, he’s 2-2 in his last four, with two losses in title fights to former champion, Kamaru Usman.
A shocking stat for Covington is that he doesn’t hold a single win over a current ranked welterweight. Despite this, he was still given the chance to fight for the title and this is arguably due to his controversial personality.
At 35, a loss in Las Vegas could spell the end of Covington as a contender. He’d be 2-3 in his last five, the persona is certainly wearing thin and importantly, there’s only so many times that legitimate contenders can be stepped over in favour of a ‘ticket seller’. Names including Belal Muhammad and Shavkat Rakhmonov, who competes this weekend against Stephen Thompson are both contenders for a title shot.
Inconsistency and Questionable Title Calibre
There’s no doubt that it was a surprise that the former interim champion received a title shot. He fought twice in 2019 and only once in 2020, 2021, 2022 and now 2023. The calibre of opponents that Covington has picked up wins over is also questionable.
When he beat Robbie Lawler, Ruthless was coming off the back of two straight losses. The victory over Tyron Woodley was also after Woodley had lost two straight. Masvidal was enduing a two-fight winning run also.
We also can’t ignore that he’s already had two title opportunities, both of which were unsuccessful. In his first title shot at Usman, not only did he lose the fight, but he was finished by The Nigerian Nightmare in the final round. The second saw Covington thoroughly out classed by Usman. 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 scorecards, two knockdowns for the champ and 0/11 takedowns landed for Covington saw him decisively lose his second attempt.
We have to, therefore ask whether he truly is world title calibre and a loss to Edwards on Saturday night would cement him as not being that level of a fighter, despite massive successes throughout his career.
A loss in the T-Mobile Arena would likely mark the end of Covington as a title challenger. There are still interesting fights for him and if he does lose, he would still be a draw (to an extent). Fight Night main events are a potential as are frequenting PPV main cards. That is, if he wants to. There’s a chance that with a loss, we see him hang up the gloves. If not, he could be someone that up and comers look to make a name off. Rakhmonov, Ian Garry and Jack Della Maddalena would all massively benefit from having Covington’s name on their record.
All this is hypothetical, however, as Covington clashes with Leon Edwards on Saturday night. We’ll know a lot more about the career of ‘America’s Champ’ come Sunday morning!