Leon Edwards finally has a dance partner for the March 13 outing, and it is none other than UFC 258 winner and No. 13 ranked welterweight contender Belal Muhammad. After Rocky's original opponent Khamzat Chimaev had to pull out of the fight due to lingering effects of Covid-19 infection, the UFC and Dana White were in hot pursuit of a replacement fighter, and Belal Muhammad stepped up to face the No.3 ranked Leon Edwards.
The fight presents the most significant opportunity of Muhammad's career, but it is a significant step down for Edwards, who stands to lose more than gain if he ends up defeated. It is evident for anyone to wonder why the fight between the two competitors so far apart in rankings was put together, and we present to you the reasons why Leon Edwards did not get a top-ranked contender.
1. Colby Covington does not think he owes Leon Edwards a fight
After the fight with Khamzat Chimaev fell apart, it was reported that Dana White and the UFC were trying to book a meeting between Leon Edwards and No.1 ranked fighter Colby Covington. But Covington turned down the fight and during a recent interview with Submission Radio, he explained the reasons behind it. Colby Covington criticized Leon Edwards for his inactivity in the past year and a half and refused to take the fight as he believes the title fight should be next for him.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about. That’s just him talking. Let's talk about facts. I'm fighting the best in the world. I’m not doing charity business no more. It’s not my fault that this kid (Leon Edwards) hasn’t fought in two years. There’s people from England that are fighting all the time in the pandemic, they’re not scared to fight. I’m not doing charity for this guy who hasn’t fought in two years. He’s irrelevant, he’s beat a bunch of bums, and I’m not doing charity,” Colby Covington told Submission Radio
2. Leon Edwards turned down a fight against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson before accepting Khamzat Chimaev fight
After travel restrictions kept Leon Edwards on the sidelines for the majority of 2020, he demanded a fight against top contenders Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington to determine the next title challenger but was met with stern refusal from both fighters. When No. 5 ranked contender Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson called Edwards out on Twitter in October 2020, Rocky refused the offer and was later booked to fight hot prospect Khamzat Chimaev.
3. Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal could be the next title fight at welterweight
Following his win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman called out No. 4 ranked contender Jorge Masvidal for a rematch. Although Usman held a win over Masvidal, the first fight was put together on short notice and has left many questions unanswered. Both Masvidal and Usman appear to be interested in squashing the beef for good, which makes the Leon Edwards fight a less lucrative proposition for the Gamebred fighter.
4. Tyron Woodley is booked to fight Vicente Luque at UFC 260
Leon Edwards and former welterweight kingpin Tyron Woodley were scheduled to scrap on the Fight Night card in March 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the bout cancelation and it would have made perfect sense to rebook the meeting in the event of Khamzat Chimaev's withdrawal. However, the UFC announced the fight between No. 7 ranked Tyron Woodley and No. 10 ranked Vicente Luque on the UFC 260 undercard, which closed the option for Rocky.