Colby Covington rates UFC 296 performance, blames Leon Edwards loss on judges’ bias

Colby Covington admitted he had an off night at UFC 296, but he also blamed judges for not awarding him a win over Leon Edwards.

Covington reacted with shock when Edwards was declared the winner of Saturday’s pay-per-view via unanimous 49-46 scores. Despite his performance, he chalked up his third title loss to bias from officials.

“I thought the third, fourth and fifth round were mine,” Covington said at the post-fight press conference for UFC 296. “The fifth was mine, easily. … He didn’t put any damage on me. He got a couple of low kicks, but then I started checking them at the end, so I thought I had the win and did enough, but the judges never favor me. They hate me because I support Trump, and everybody hates Trump in this building, so it is what it is. Life goes on.”

According to overall UFC stats from the five-round fight, Covington beat Edwards on total strikes, 109 to 65. The two were even on takedowns, each getting two on the board. Edwards beat Covington in significant strikes, however, landing 57 to Covington’s 44.

The fight’s judges, veteran officials Derek Cleary, Sal D’Amato and Chris Lee, issued a rare unanimous scorecard, awarding Edwards Rounds 1-4 via 10-9 scores and giving Covington the final frame via the same tally.

An indisputable stat on Covington’s performance against Edwards versus his previous fight, a grudge match with ex-training partner Jorge Masvidal that ended in a unanimous decision, was his output. In that fight, he threw 218 strikes to Masvidal’s 90. And of those, he landed 94 significant strikes to Masvidal’s 67.

Covington has been known as a volume striker and high-pace competitor in the octagon. But on Saturday, he appeared far more tentative than before, and he attributed the switch to his layoff.

“I would rate my performance a 5 out of 10,” he said. “I can sit here all day and make excuses. I could have zigged when I should have zagged. It was a timing thing, because I was off, but that’s the cloth that I was cut from, so I’m not going to make excuses.”

“I held back a lot in that fight,” he said later. “I don’t even feel like I was in a fight. It feels like I was in practice rounds. I’m a lot better than that, and I’m still 35 years young, and my best is yet to come.”

Between bouts of political speak and praise toward former President Donald Trump, Covington struck an optimistic tone despite his third title setback. He also set his sights on his next rival, UFC 296 main card competitor Stephen Thompson, who was submitted by Shavhkat Rakhmonov earlier in the night.

Asked whether he’d like to face the undefeated Rakhmonov, Covington said the matchup made no sense. But Thompson was an attractive target.

“There’s a guy that’s been talking a lot of s*** to me in the media: Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson,” Covington said. “Everybody thinks he’s a nice guy, but he’s had a lot to say about me, so I’d love to see him say that to me in the octagon.

“He was just saying some stuff before the fight – ‘Oh, he’s going to get his jaw broke,’ this and that. He’s always talking s***, throwing shade. So I’d love to see him say it to my face. He’s always got things to say to you guys in the media, but I’ve never seen him come up to me, face to face.”

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