With welterweight champion Kamaru Usman set to defend his title against Jorge Masvidal in a rematch at UFC 261 this weekend, one of the most lingering questions is, who will be the next challenger for the title? Usman first defeated Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer by unanimous decision, a fight which Masvidal took on six-days notice. On Monday, UFC President Dana White spoke with the media and said he believes Colby Covington will be the next fighter to challenge for the title following this weekend’s main event.
In an interview with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, White said the UFC made the rematch to “do away with all the excuses” and then the former interim welterweight champion will be next.
“He’s at the point in his career where he’s looking at who’s next again. He’s coming back and facing guys that he’s already beat. So Masvidal, obviously took the [first] fight on short-notice, so let’s give him this fight so we can do away with all the excuses, and then Colby Covington’s next.”
While Colby Covington has only competed once since his first fight against Usman in December of 2019 at UFC 245, Dana White believes the history between the champion and challenger makes that fight a must-see once again.
The fight with Usman and Colby, Colby Covington, love him or hate him whatever your deal is with him, is one of the best fighters in the world and that fight [with Usman] was incredible. Both guys had to dig deep in that fight, it was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Ever. Anything can happen, guys get injured, things happen, timing. Who knows, especially in this day and age, but that should be the fight that happens next.
Covington’s last fight was a dominant victory over former champion Tyron Woodley, who he has also shared a beef with over the years. The loss to Usman was only Covington’s second of his professional career, and his current record stands at 16-2. It will be interesting to see what the UFC decides to do if Masvidal were to defeat Usman, if they would choose to run back a trilogy between the two, or have Covington face Masvidal, as the two are former roommates now turned rivals.
There are two other fighters who will be watching the UFC 261 main event will be next month’s UFC 262 co-main event where Nate Diaz will return to face Leon Edwards in a five-round co-main event. With the future always uncertain for the next possible title challenger, an impressive showing from Diaz or Edwards could throw things for a change in the welterweight division.