Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) challenges welterweight champion Leon Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) in the Dec. 16 pay-per-view headliner at T-Mobile Arena.
Lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who’s coming off a close title defense against featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284, has hinted at a future welterweight move. He defends his belt in a rematch against Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 on Oct. 21. If Covington dethrones Edwards, he’s not looking at No. 1 contender Belal Muhammad next.
“There’s a lot of big fights after I become undisputed (champion) in December,” Covington told My MMA News. “Conor’s always looming if he wants to come back. I don’t think he’s going to want to fight when he sees the performance I put on. He doesn’t want to get embarrassed in front of the world. He’s a great fighter. He’s done great things – unpredictable. He could do anything at any moment. He’s a dangerous guy, but when he sees what I put on Leon, those guys are going to run from me.
“There’s that little Mongoloid. He’s been talking a little bit saying he wants to come up and fight in a real man’s division because he’s in a little boy’s weight class and I’m talking about Islam Makhachev. He’s fighting in a little man’s weight class. He’s fighting little midgets and he’s barely beating midgets. I mean, split decisions, split draws – it’s just pathetic.”
Edwards is coming off back-to-back wins over Kamaru Usman, but Covington is confident he has the style to beat him.
“It’s a great matchup,” Covington said. “I love fighting southpaws. There’s a reason he’s delaying this matchup. He knows it’s the hardest stylistic fight for him, and for me, it’s just another fight, another big pay-per-view main event. I don’t even remember the last time I fought a f*cking three-round prelim fight like some of these other bums that call out my name.
“I think it’s a great stylistic fight – southpaw to southpaw – and I just don’t think he can keep up with my well-roundedness. He’s going to be guessing the whole time. Am I taking him down? Am I striking? Now I’m a black belt under Sensei Valverde, so my submission skills, my finishing skills, I’m coming to put this dude’s lights out. He ain’t making it 25 minutes come Dec. 16.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.