Leon Edwards dominated Colby Covington for five rounds to retain the Welterweight belt at UFC 296.
Leon Edwards (22-3) defeated Colby Covington (17-4) by unanimous decision to retain the Welterweight Championship at UFC 296 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
— UFC (@ufc) December 17, 2023
The first round began with Edwards measured and composed circling around Covington. The challenger tossed a few casual leg kicks, but played an unorthodox opening to the fight as he sat back and waiting for Edwards to strike. Edwards cut the cage off for Covington, finding opportunities for left and right hooks while the challenger eventually went for an unsuccessful takedown. Edwards remained untested to close the first.
Covington upped the tempo to open the second, but Edwards quickly put him a step back with a snapping hook. Midway through the round, both fighters stood in a stalemate, with neither able to make much progress. A welt began to develop on Covington’s front leg from Edwards’ repeated leg kicks. Edwards continued to chip away with a swiping head kick, moving back to the body, then the head again. Edwards backed Covingiton against the cage, then hit another leg kick as Covington winced.
Between rounds, Covington’s corner urged him to up the pressure after a lackluster first two rounds. Covington pressed to open the third, but Edwards settled back into bringing the fight to the challenger. Edwards snapped another leg kick that made the challenger take an additional step. Covington shot in against the cage, was able to slide Edwards off to the side and took him to the mat. Edwards exploded up, then moved in for a takedown of Covington. He stood up and allowed Covington back to his feet before pressing forward with leg kicks, jabs, and body shots.
Covington opened the fourth with another takedown attempt, but Edwards caught him and nearly choked him out from a standing position. Edwards continued to chip away with a straight kick to the body, a straight left, then a leg kick. Covington shot in for another takedown, but was unsuccessful. Covington answered with a big left hand, then followed with another straight left. He hit Edwards with another straight shot, then went for a takedown against the cage with about a minute left in the round. Edwards scrambled with Covington, then got low and flipped Covington over his back, allowing him back to his feet before the end of the round.
In the fifth and final round, Edwards again walked down Covington, immediately targeting a head kick. Covington shot for a takedown and was successful, moving to take Edwards back, but the champ got back to his feet and earned yet another takedown of Covington. He took the challenger’s back before Covington flipped and Edwards had a chance for a triangle choke. Covington flipped out to take control on the ground. From side control, Covington did everything he could to earn points, punching at the champ’s side before the buzzer rang.
Edwards won the belt in 2022 with a last-minute knockout of Kamaru Usman. He followed that up with a decision victory over Usman in their sequel earlier this year before moving onto Covington.
Covington suffered a 2019 knockout by Usman and has been a bit up and down since. In 2020, he knocked out former champion Tyron Woodley, lost a decision bout to Usman in 2021, then earned a decision victory over Jorge Masvidal in 2022.