UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has let rip at his long-time rival and one-time opponent, Colby Covington, who recently turned down a fight with British standout Leon Edwards.

‘Rocky’ was looking for a new opponent after Khamzat Chimaev was forced out of their main event match-up scheduled for March 13. UFC president Dana White revealed he was hoping Covington would step in but ‘Chaos’ had no interest in doing so and the spot ultimately was filled by Belal Muhammad.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ believes Covington made a big error by refusing to fight Edwards.

“I think he made a huge mistake, a tremendous mistake,” Usman told MMA Junkie. “Who turns down a paycheck? He turned down a paycheck. That’s horrible. You can’t do that. I mean, maybe he’s not hurting for money. But you can’t turn down a paycheck. Then on top of it, you turned down a chance to really remind the fans.

‘I understand, you’ve got to win. But that’s one win in how long? (Tyron) Woodley’s coming off a two-fight, three-fight skid. It’s a tough one to basically say, ‘Oh, all right, you’ve got one win. You’re back in.’ For a guy that’s coming off a two, three-fight skid, that was a tough one.”

Usman and Covington fought in a Fight of the Year contender at UFC 245 in December 2019. The champ retained his title with a gritty performance that resulted in a fifth round TKO win.

Since then Covington has picked up a win over former champ, Tyron Woodley and seems to believe he should be next in line for a title shot. Usman says had ‘Chaos’ beaten Edwards that might be the case. For now, he is intent on running things back with Jorge Masvidal.

“For you to sit here and demand, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve done enough. I demand a shot’ … First of all, you weren’t (the UFC’s) favorite in the first place,” Usman said. “You’re not. So you can’t sit here (and say that). It’s not that you’re selling mad pay-per-per views. You don’t really do that, as well. So for you to sit here and demand something like that, I think it’s ridiculous. I think the best way for you to solidify your title shot is to go out there and fight.

“And what better way than to knock off the No. 3 (ranked) guy? He’s on his way up. He’s making the claim to the throne that he deserves that shot. What better way than to knock him off? He failed to do that and I think he made a tremendous mistake.”

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A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.