UFC president Dana White confirmed after UFC 286 that Colby Covington will receive the next title shot against welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
Edwards retained the title in Saturday's main event with a majority decision win against Kamaru Usman. Covington, who weighed in Friday as the backup fighter, was cageside at The O2 Arena in London for the fight.
"I don't know when we'll do it, but, yeah, that's the fight that makes sense," White said at the postfight press conference. "Colby came here and cut weight and did everything to be here for this fight. He deserves the fight - not to mention the fact that he's the second- or third-best guy in the world."
White said the result of the blockbuster welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287 in April won't change the fact that Covington is next for Edwards.
Covington hasn't stepped into the Octagon since a dominant win over Masvidal in March 2022. He has challenged for the welterweight title twice, losing to Usman both times.
White said the promotion is working on a welterweight fight between Belal Muhammad and Shavkat Rakhmonov. He added that Khamzat Chimaev will likely return to middleweight in an October bout.
Edwards was puzzled by the UFC's decision when he heard that Covington was next in line.
"I don't know how that makes sense," Edwards said, according to MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti. "He hasn't fought for over a year. ... Sat out not injured. I don't get how he just slides in for a world title shot when there's other guys in the division that have been active.
"I'm the king now. I've earned my way. So I feel I should decide who's next."
Covington said on the UFC 286 broadcast that he wants to challenge for the belt at the promotion's annual International Fight Week event in July.
"I didn't see anything special," Covington said of Edwards' performance, according to MMA Junkie's Farah Hannoun and Abbey Subban. "I see a guy that isn't hungry anymore. It looks like he got the title and he made his money, and he's kind of cashed out.
"Of course he's going to get some home-cooking judging. He got his little home affair. Now it's time to come see the man - the real champion, the people's champion, the king of Miami, and the most important title: Donald Trump's favorite fighter."