The pre-fight build up to Saturday’s UFC 296 main event between welterweight champion Leon Edwards and challenger Colby Covington took an ugly turn at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. What was expected to be a typical exchange of trash talk between the two rivals quickly escalated when Covington aimed a crude insult at Edwards regarding his late father. Edwards reacted angrily and had to be physically restrained after throwing a bottle in Covington’s direction.
Edwards Throws Bottle and Lunges Towards Covington After Comments About Late Father
As seen in this video, Edwards was visibly shaking with anger and had to be held back by UFC president Dana White after Covington taunted, “Who did you get your mentality from? Your crackhead dad?” Edwards’ father passed away when Edwards was young.
Covington has made a career of riling up opponents with his abrasive trash talk, but this comment appeared to cross the line for Edwards. The champion threw a bottle down the stage towards Covington before being restrained. He continued trying to break free of White’s grasp while Covington laughed and extended his arms, inviting Edwards to come at him.
The incident resulted in increased security and tension on the stage for the remainder of the press event. Each fighter eventually made it through their face off photo opportunity without further altercations. But this ugly scene has added personal animosity to an already heated grudge match.
Bad Blood Simmers Between Long-Time Rivals
Edwards and Covington have traded barbs ever since Edwards earned a unanimous decision victory over Covington in 2015. As the two welterweights rose up the ranks, their rivalry only intensified. They were scheduled to fight in 2018 and 2020, but both bouts fell through due to injuries.
In the lead up to UFC 296, the trash talk has focused on their first meeting, with each fighter claiming they dominated the other. After capturing the belt from Kamaru Usman last August, Edwards has repeatedly vowed to finish Covington in more devastating fashion this time.
Covington has questioned Edwards “mentality and heart,” while Edwards has called Covington “a f***ing weirdo” and likened him to antagonists in movies. But Thursday’s press conference indicates just how deep the personal animus runs. These two fighters genuinely do not like each other, raising the stakes for their rematch.
| UFC 296 Tale of the Tape |
| Fighter | Leon Edwards | Colby Covington |
| Nickname | Rocky | Chaos |
| Age | 31 | 34 |
| Height | 6’0″ | 5’11” |
| Reach | 74″ | 72″ |
| Record | 20-3 | 17-3 |
| Finishes (KO/Sub) | 8 (3 KO, 5 Sub) | 7 (5 KO, 2 Sub) |
| Last 5 Fights | 4-0-1 | 4-1 |
| Current Streak | 1 Win | 1 Win |
Highly Anticipated Title Fight Takes Place Saturday Night
Lost amidst Thursday’s press conference fracas is what should still be an incredible championship fight at UFC 296 on Saturday night.
Edwards makes the first defense of his welterweight title at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against his bitter rival and No. 1 contender Covington. Their first meeting over seven years ago whet the appetite for this grudge match, and the latest controversy only elevates the stakes.
In a stacked card also featuring Tony Ferguson’s return against Li Jingliang, this five-round main event pits two elite 170-pound fighters against one another, each out for blood after years of bad blood.
Edwards will look to control the action with his crisp boxing and threaten with submissions if the fight goes to the mat. Covington plans to implement his wrestling heavy attack and try to overwhelm Edwards with pace and pressure.
UFC 296 Shaping Up as One of the Year’s Biggest Events
With two title fights, the return of a former interim lightweight champ in Ferguson, and a bevy of rising contenders, UFC 296 has the makings of a stellar end-of-year pay-per-view.
Australian featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski takes on dangerous striker Josh Emmett in the co-main event. Volkanovski eyes his second defense of 2022 while Emmett gets a long-awaited first crack at UFC gold.
Elsewhere on the main card, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos returns from a 3-year absence to fight rising welterweight contender Belal Muhammad. Fan favorites Geoff Neal and Santiago Ponzinibbio kick off the main card looking to enter the crowded 170-pound title picture.
Add in featured prelim bouts like the returns of Paddy Pimblett, Jared Gordon and Julian Marquez, and the table appears set for a thrill-a-minute event to close out the 2023 PPV calendar.
Of course Edwards and Covington now enter the Octagon with extra motivation after Thursday’s tense face off. Their explosive second fight now carries an even more volatile grudge match feel.
The MMA world will be locked in Saturday night to see if Edwards can defend his title or if Covington leaves Vegas with the belt.
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