Known as one of the loudest trash talkers in the sport, Covington rarely misses a chance to take shots at his opponents, and his verbal onslaught will likely only ramp up as Saturday’s card draws nearer. But as much as Covington may want to get under Edwards’ skin, the reigning UFC welterweight champion promises that nothing said to him ahead of the fight will ultimately affect its outcome.
“I just ignore it,” Edwards told MMA Fighting. “It’s a different kind of banter where I’m from and where I grew up. It just reminds me of a typical American jock. He’s like Stifler from American Pie, that kind of person. He just talks s***. It’s whatever.
“Even outside of fighting, me and him would never be friends. We’re just two different human beings and two different men. Our morals are different as men. That’s it. I’ll go out there and it makes it easier for me to train, it makes it easier for me to go out and punch a hole in his face, and that’s it.”
Much like Seann William Scott’s iconic character from the American Pie films, Edwards fully expects that Covington will be rehearsing lines, especially as they prepare to take the stage for the UFC 296 pre-fight press conference.
Edwards feels like he can probably predict everything Covington will say, which he knows will effectively disarm the vitriol that will be aimed his way.
“He comes out and plays a character,” Edwards said. “‘I’m going to play a character because I’m about to get cut from the UFC.’ It’s easier for someone like that to tolerate, just laugh at him. You’re just a f****** weirdo. That’s it.
“You can say word for word what he’s going to say. You can know how he’s going to dress. He’s just a character that’s funny and a clown. We just enjoy it for what it is.”
Regardless of the originality spewing from Covington’s mouth, when he talks, people listen — and that has played a large part in him staying in the spotlight despite not competing for nearly two years.
Covington last fought in March 2022, when he defeated former friend and teammate Jorge Masvidal in one of the ugliest rivalries in recent history. That win moved Covington to 2-2 over his past four fights, which included a pair of losses to Kamaru Usman in his two previous attempts at becoming undisputed UFC welterweight champion.
Based on résumé alone, Edwards still doesn’t understand why Covington is getting the shot at his title, but he’s not the matchmaker so he just signed the contract put in front of him.
“I feel like the world knows that [he doesn’t deserve it],” Edwards said. “He got beat by [Kamaru] Usman. He beat a guy in [Jorge] Masvidal that’s basically about to walk out the door, and then [he sat] out for two years and got a title shot. Turned down all the fights that was offered to him, all the callouts that called him out.”
Whether Covington earned his title shot doesn’t matter much now, because he’s getting the opportunity and Edwards won’t discount him as a threat — even if he’s not all that impressed by the former interim welterweight champion.
For all the ways that Covington has built his reputation around a relentless pace, pressure, and wrestling that has worn down many of his past opponents, Edwards is quick to point out who those wins came against and at what point in their careers they faced him.
“Everyone talks about his cardio and that’s his weapon,” Edwards said. “Nobody says nothing about his skill set. I don’t think he’s talented, he’s more of a hard worker. He’s more cardio than skills. They’re judging the cardio off beating Robbie Lawler five years ago, six years ago. He’s in for a totally different shock.
“That was a Robbie Lawler that was already washed, over the hill. That wasn’t the same Robbie Lawler that beat Rory MacDonald back in the day or that kind of guy. All his wins he gets confidence off is all older, washed guys. He’s in for a rude awakening come Saturday night.”
The same goes for Covington’s win over Masvidal, but Edwards warns him that’s not the type of opponent Covington is about to battle on Saturday night.
“I am no Masvidal,” Edwards said. “Everyone knows that. Masvidal was a one-foot-out-the-door fighter. He’s about to retire, he fought Colby to get a little payday to retire with. I am no Masvidal. If that’s what he’s judging it off, he’s got a rude awakening.”
As far as a prediction goes, Edwards doesn’t really care how he gets the job done so long as he walks out of the T-Mobile Arena with the welterweight title still around his waist.
That being said, Edwards knows it would be that much sweeter to silence Covington with a knockout, which he believes could potentially spell the end of his challenger’s career.
“I feel like a win is a win, but I don’t think I need to but I want to knock him out,” Edwards said. “I want to put that nail in his coffin. This is his fourth title shot. This one, he didn’t earn one bit. Sat out for two years, complained, moaned, blamed everybody else. It was everybody else’s fault but not his. Me cementing that last nail in his coffin would be a joy and I can’t wait to do it.
“I can’t see him sticking around to fight all these younger guys. He’s already turned them down already. I can’t see him now having that same mentality and grind to go out there and compete against these younger guys. He’s used to beating guys like Robbie Lawler, he’s used to beating guys like Jorge Masvidal, guys that are over the hill a little bit. They’re 37, 38, been in wars, their bodies are beaten up. He’s used to beating them kind of guys. Now going out there and beating those young, fit, hungry guys? I just can’t see him doing it.”
This story originally appeared on MMA fighting