Leon Edwards has ruled out a potential return to the Octagon in July.

After successfully defending his UFC welterweight title against Kamaru Usman last month, news began to break that ‘Rocky’ would return in July for a showdown with No. 2 ranked contender Colby Covington. However, Leon Edwards has already ruled out that possibility, suggesting that it’s far too early to consider another title defense after closing out his trilogy with the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ at UFC 286.

“July is 100 percent too soon,” Edwards told MMA Fighting on Thursday. “I fought in March, just under a month ago, and I’m still dealing with injuries and stuff that I had to deal with before I even consider getting back into a training camp. If I’m fighting in July, that means I’m going back into training camp next week, and that’s just not possible.

“I will look toward the back end of the year. I would love to do Abu Dhabi in October. I think that would be a great time frame for me to compete, but there’s actually no clear No. 1 contender. There’s no one actually out there that’s actually earned it. There’s guys coming off two losses, one win. There’s guys that [have] one win, one loss. It’s a difficult time in the welterweight division. So now I’ve just got to look towards business. I will sit back, talk to the UFC, talk to my team, and see what’s best.”

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Leon Edwards Doesn’t Buy Colby Covington as the Next Man in Line

Leon Edwards may not see anyone deserving of a welterweight title opportunity, but Dana White clearly disagrees. During the UFC 286 post-fight press event, the UFC President revealed that Colby Covington was deserving of a shot at the 170-pound crown. After getting some pushback from Leon Edwards, and the rest of the MMA world, White doubled down on his comments, confirming that ‘Chaos’ would be next for ‘Rocky’ regardless of what the champ thinks.

That decision is especially perplexing when you consider that Colby Covington is 2-2 in his last four bouts with the two losses coming in title fights against Kamaru Usman, the man Leon Edwards just beat in back-to-back encounters. His only wins in the last four years have come against a past-his-prime Tyron Woodley and the recently-retired Jorge Masvidal. Covington doesn’t even own a win over any man currently ranked in the division’s top ten.

“It’s weird — I don’t know why he’s getting pushed so much,” Edwards said. “He’s coming off two losses to the guy that I just currently beat [in Kamaru Usman], and then went and beat a guy in Masvidal that’s just retired, and now sat out for over a year. Turned down Gilbert [Burns], turned down Khamzat [Chimaev], turned down Belal [Muhammad], and then come back to a title shot? It’s weird. It’s something that I’ve never seen before.

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“When I was going through the pandemic, having fight cancellations, Khamzat pulled out twice, I pulled out once, Masvidal pulled out, all these fights falling through — I got removed from the rankings for that, even though it was out of my control and wasn’t my fault. I got removed out of the rankings.

“For a guy to be fit and healthy, [sit] on the sidelines, turn down three or four fights and then say he wants to fight for the title, it doesn’t make sense. I feel like they should do it like I did it. Just shut up and fight. I earned my position. I worked for it. But these guys want handouts and freebies, and that’s not the way it works.”

Leon Edwards Has Not Received a Fight Offer From the UFC

Despite Dana White’s assistance that it will be Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington next, ‘Rocky’ revealed that he has not received a fight offer, nor has the office even contacted him to iron out any of the details.

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“There’s no fight offer,” he said. “The UFC hasn’t even spoke to us. There’s no talks of that fight happening. He is talking just to talk. But as far as getting stripped, this is a guy that’s sat out for a year, turned down fight after fight, so he’s talking just to talk. I’m one that always took every fight. I took Khamzat when nobody wanted to fight Khamzat. I took him three times when everyone was turning him down. So it is what it is.

“I’m coming off a fight against one of the top welterweights in the world, Kamaru Usman, just under a month ago. It hasn’t been a month yet since I fought Usman. There’s no stripping here. I am willing to fight whoever, whenever, as long as they deserve it and the time frame is right.”

Leon Edwards is also frustrated by the fact that many of the men in the division’s top ten opt to sit on the sidelines and talk their way into a UFC title opportunity rather than earning it the way he had to.

“Instead of sitting around complaining, fight each other,” he said. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t. If you truly believe you’re the No. 1 contender, you should want to fight these guys, to prove to everybody, ‘There’s no one in my way. It’s me next.’ For some reason these guys want to sit out, complain, moan about the title shot without fighting.

“I had to do 10 in a row to get my title shot. These guys are coming off one win, one loss, one win, one loss, and demanding title shots. For sure, I feel like they should fight each other. Either Colby vs. Belal or Burns vs. Colby, however they want to do it. Whoever wins, that’s me next.”

Craig Pekios is a freelance writer born and raised in Bettendorf, IA. Joining LowKick MMA in May 2022, Craig has more than 2,500 articles published that focus on the world of mixed martial arts and boxing, including news, event previews, results, analysis, and op-eds. Aside from working with LowKick MMA, Craig has contributed to news outlets Overtime Heroics, Sportskeeda, and MiddleEasy.