On Saturday at UFC 296, Edwards defends his welterweight title for the second time when he meets Covington in the main event. Edwards has had plenty of time to watch tape on the two-time title challenger, with Covington having been on the shelf since defeating Jorge Masvidal in March 2022.
So what has the champ taken away from all this tape study?
“He’s not as good as everyone thinks,” Edwards said at UFC 296 media day on Wednesday. “He’s a guy that’s been stopped before by TKO, been choked out before, been taken down before, so there’s many ways that you can beat him. He’s just a normal fighter that’s more scrappy, basically. He’s like [Kamaru] Usman, but more scrappy, basically. Me and the team have come up with a great game plan to neutralize everywhere where he’s good at and my aim is to out and take him out.”
Edwards isn’t sure why Covington was picked to be his next title challenger and he doesn’t particularly care either. All he knows is that Covington is who he has to get through if he wants to hold on to his top spot in the crowded welterweight division.
The choice of Covington being granted another championship opportunity has faced scrutiny from fans and media due to his long layoff, a factor that Edwards thinks says something about Covington’s fighting future.
“I believe so,” Edwards said. “I can’t see him — he’s already turned down all the younger guys coming up. He’s turned down everyone the UFC offered him and sat out for two years, so now I can’t see him winning the belt and then fighting all the young up-and-comers. I just can’t see it happening. I think when someone like that gets stuff handed to them so easily all the time that it he feels like he can do that.
“After I beat him, I truly believe he’s either going to retire or move down, probably. He keeps calling out Islam, so let him go fight Islam at lightweight.”
Edwards was also asked for his opinion on Covington’s infamous trash talk, which has been as present as ever in the lead-up to their fight. He has shrugged off most of it, but had to comment on Covington being doggedly devoted to former President Donald Trump.
Covington has boasted that Trump will be in attendance to wrap the UFC title around his waist should he defeated Edwards, and he came to media day wearing a custom suit emblazoned with the colors of the American flag and Trump’s mugshot on the back. It’s a design aesthetic that has left Edwards befuddled.
“I don’t know, I think the whole scenario is weird,” Edwards said. “That’s what I make of it. I don’t get the fascination with another man. I don’t get it. I know he used to be the president and stuff, but he’s no longer the president, so I don’t get what’s going on. It’s just weird, why he picked him just to be a character off the back of him. I just don’t get it.
“Trump ain’t wrapping nothing around his waist, because he ain’t getting the belt. Trump has been to his fights before, when he’s lost, so Trump can’t fight for him. He needs to grow up and go get a girlfriend or something.”