American motormouth Colby Covington will get another crack at welterweight gold and could face the winner of the Kamaru Usman versus Jorge Masvidal rematch this weekend, according to UFC boss Dana White.
Usman and Masvidal will run it back in front of a capacity crowd at the VyStar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, at the top of a stacked card at UFC 261 on Saturday night.
This time, Miami fan favorite Masvidal will have the benefit of a full camp heading into the contest, having last faced Usman in Abu Dhabi in July at just six days’ notice.
On that occasion, Usman outmuscled his rival to pick up a dominant unanimous decision victory, with ‘the Nigerian Nightmare’ since defending his 170lbs title against Brazilian contender Gilbert Burns.
That extended Usman’s unbeaten streak to 17 – a run which includes a fifth-round stoppage win against Covington in December of 2019, marking a brutal end to a contest surrounded by the toxic rhetoric typical of many of Covington’s outings to the Octagon.
Covington has since defeated former welterweight king Tyron Woodley in September of last year, and has been clamoring for another shot at Usman.
According to White, the 33-year-old American is likely to be next in line for the man who emerges victorious on Saturday night in Florida.
“The division is stacked with killers right now,” White said on TSN.
“Covington, love him or hate him, or whatever your deal is with him, is one of the best fighters in the world.
“That fight [with Usman] was incredible, both guys had to dig deep in that fight, it’s one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, ever.”
When asked if Covington would need to fight again to set up a shot at Usman or Masvidal, White replied: “Who knows, anything could happen… but that should be the fight that happens next.”
Covington has suggested he will show up in Florida this weekend as ‘back-up’, should either of Usman or Masvidal be forced out.
“I’ll be there. So if anybody pulls out, I’ll be stepping in and we’ll evaluate from there,” Covington said.
“I just want to put on good fights and capitalize on my prime of my career, which is what I’m in. So we’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.”
White, however, contradicted that suggestion by confirming there would be no official stand-in for the welterweight title contest.
Turning his attentions to Usman and Masvidal, the UFC chief said that Saturday night could settle the rivalry once and for all – especially after the lingering notion that ‘Gamebred’ did not come into their previous contest on a level playing field.
“Let’s give him this fight and we can do away with all the excuses,” said White.
Usman, 33, will be making the fourth defense of the title he claimed by defeating Woodley in March 2019.
With his victory over Burns, the Nigerian-born star surpassed welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre’s record of consecutive UFC wins in the division, moving on to 13 straight successes.
While many – including White – have tipped Usman for potential GOAT status, underdog Masvidal would undoubtedly be a massively popular world champion with fans.
The Miami former backstreet brawler and inaugural ‘BMF’ will be fighting in a landmark 50th professional contest this weekend, and has provided some of the most iconic UFC moments in recent years.
Like Usman, he also has bad blood with Covington stemming from the pair’s days as former training partners.
Covington has dubbed Masvidal ‘Street Judas’ in a play on one of his fighting monikers, while the Miami star has never shirked from the opportunity to express his disdain for the brash Californian.
Should Masvidal pull off an upset against Usman to level the scores at 1-1, there would likely calls for the pair to meet in a trilogy fight – meaning Covington would have to wait a little longer before getting the chance to contest UFC gold.