Leon Edwards hits out at ‘weirdo’ Colby Covington ahead of UFC 296 clash

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Leon Edwards has dismissed Colby Covington’s pre-fight comments ahead of UFC 296, labelling his challenger a “weirdo”.

Edwards is set to defend the welterweight title against the controversial Covington in Saturday’s main event in Las Vegas, as the American challenges for the undisputed belt for the third time.

Covington, a former interim champion, twice failed to dethrone Kamaru Usman – in 2019 and 2021 – before Edwards knocked out the “Nigerian Nightmare” in August 2022 to win the title. The Jamaican-born Briton then retained the gold against Usman in London this March, beating the former pound-for-pound No 1 on points – eight years after Usman won their first clash in the same manner.

Covington, 35, has been typically antagonistic in the lead-up to Saturday’s fight, but Edwards is unfazed. “I just ignore it,” the 32-year-old told MMA Fighting. “It’s a different kind of banter where I’m from and where I grew up.

“[He] just reminds me of a typical American jock. He’s like Stifler from American Pie, that kind of person. He just talks s***. It’s whatever. Even outside of fighting, me and him would never be friends. We’re just two different human beings and two different men. Our morals are different as men, that’s it.

“I’ll go out there and it makes it easier for me to train, it makes it easier for me to go out and punch a hole in his face, and that’s it. He comes out and plays a character. ‘I’m going to play a character, because I’m about to get cut from the UFC.’ It’s easier [to tolerate someone like that if you] just laugh at him.

“You’re just a f***ing weirdo. That’s it. You can say word for word what he’s going to say. You can know how he’s going to dress. He’s just a character that’s funny and a clown. We just enjoy it for what it is.”

Covington last fought in March 2022, dominating friend-turned-rival Jorge Masvidal for a decision win. The American then weighed in as the back-up fighter for Edwards’s title defence against Usman in March.

“I feel like the world knows that [Covington doesn’t deserve this title fight],” Edwards said. “He got beat by Usman. He beat a guy in Masvidal that’s basically about to walk out the door, and then [he] sat out for two years and got a title shot. Turned down all the fights that was offered to him, all the call-outs that called him out.

“Everyone talks about his cardio, and that’s his weapon. Nobody says nothing about his skill set. I don’t think he’s talented, he’s more of a hard worker; he’s more cardio than skills. They’re judging the cardio off beating Robbie Lawler five years ago, six years ago. He’s in for a totally different shock.

“He’s in for a rude awakening come Saturday night […] I feel like a win is a win; I don’t think I need to but I want to knock him out.”

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