Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Alex Pattle

Leon Edwards picks apart Colby Covington to retain title at UFC 296

Getty Images

Leon Edwards retained the UFC welterweight title with a clinical performance against Colby Covington on Saturday, easing to a points win in Las Vegas.

The Jamaican-born Briton showed off his superiority in the striking exchanges and even out-grappled the wrestling specialist for periods of the fight, which headlined UFC 296 at the T-Mobile Arena.

The controversial Covington, 35, is famed for his offensive wrestling and relentless pressure, but he was surprisingly inactive against Edwards, 32. The champion was able to pick off the American at range, while denying the majority of Covington’s sporadic takedown attempts.

In one of Edwards’s most impressive moments, he stuffed a takedown before nailing Covington with a head kick, before proceeding to takedown his challenger – as if to make a point.

Covington, who had ex-US president Donald Trump supporting him from ringside, was able to employ his grappling more effectively in the fifth and final round, ending the fight on top. However, it was too little and too late for the American, who was beaten 49-46 on all three scorecards.

After the fight, an emotional Edwards hit out at Covington for insulting his late father at Thursday’s press conference. Edwards’s father was shot and killed when the welterweight champion was just 13.

“This was an emotional fight for me,” Edwards told Joe Rogan in the Octagon. “This guy used my dad’s death as entertainment, he used my dad’s murder as entertainment. It took a lot for me to calm down, stay focused and come into this fight. I spoke to my coaches, spoke to my mum, and I kind of just shut it down.

Edwards (right) largely picked off Covington from range
— (Getty Images)

“After the press conference, I went backstage, I was crying just with the rage. You can’t use my dad’s death as entertainment, and that’s what he did. To this day, it still breaks my heart that he was murdered. [Covington] said [my dad] should burn in hell. He’s a great competitor, but he’s just a dirty human being.”

Meanwhile, Covington remarkably claimed that he felt he had beaten Edwards. “I feel great, it was an easy fight. I barely have a scratch on me,” he said, though he did acknowledge that his more tentative performance might have been down to “a long lay-off”.

Covington, who last fought in March 2022, added: “I want to shout out all the first responders and Donald Trump, he’s gonna make America great again. Trump 2024!”

Leon Edwards reveals Colby Covington's father joke made him 'cry with rage'

Edwards was making his second defence of the belt, having dethroned Kamaru Usman with a stunning knockout in 2022 before retaining the belt against his old rival this March. Usman previously outpointed Edwards in 2015, but the Briton returned the favour in London nine months ago. In fact, Edwards has now won 12 fights in a row since that loss, with the exception of a No Contest against Belal Muhammad in 2021.

Meanwhile, former interim champion Covington was challenging for the undisputed title for the third time, having twice failed to dethrone Usman – in 2019 and 2021. His last fight was a dominant decision win over friend-turned-rival Jorge Masvidal.

Elsewhere at UFC 296, Brazil’s Alexandre Pantoja outpointed Brandon Royval to retain his flyweight title, two years after submitting the American. Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett was also in action, staying unbeaten in the UFC by dominating lightweight legend Tony Ferguson, who suffered his seventh straight loss.

Meanwhile, rising welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov submitted fan favourite Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, and Josh Emmett knocked out fellow featherweight Bryce Mitchell in brutal fashion.

Irene Aldana was also victorious, beating Karol Rosa on points in one of the women’s fights of the year, and ex-bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt knocked out Brian Kelleher.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.