Leon Edwards and Colby Covington had to be pulled apart during their UFC 296 welterweight staredown.
Edwards is defending his title for the second time after winning against Kamaru Usman in two previous fights. He has been undefeated since 2015, with his last loss against Usman.
Covington is getting his third shot at winning a title, having lost to Usman in two previous bouts: a fifth-round stoppage at UFC 245 and a unanimous decision loss at UFC 268. The staredown got intense with so much on the line.
In the video, Covington controversially brought up Edwards' late father, who was shot and killed when Edwards was 13. Covington said, "I'm bringing you to the seventh layer of hell. We'll say 'what's up' to your dad while we're there." In response, Edwards threw a water bottle at him.
Covington didn't stop there and made more comments: "He's the ultimate feeling champion. He's no ultimate fighting champion. Better get the tissues ready." The champion tried to get closer, but security stepped in to calm things down. This outburst has made the situation even more personal, leaving the loser with nowhere to hide.
The current UFC welterweight champion successfully defended his title against the highly controversial Covington, securing a clear, unanimous decision victory at UFC 296. All three judges scored the bout 49-46 in favor of Edwards.
After the win, Edwards spoke with Joe Rogan in an interview, expressing how emotional the fight was for him. He revealed that Covington's comments mocking the death of his father, who was tragically murdered in a London nightclub when Edwards was 13, added to the intensity of the bout.
“This was an emotional fight for me,” said the 32-year-old Englishman by way of Jamaica. “This guy used my dad’s death as entertainment, he used my dad’s murder as entertainment. It took a lot for me to calm down, stay focused and come into this fight. I spoke to my coaches, spoke to my mum, and I kind of just shut it down.
“After the press conference, I went backstage, I was crying just with the rage. You can’t use my dad’s death as entertainment, and that’s what he did. To this day, it still breaks my heart that he was murdered. [Covington] said [my dad] should burn in hell. He’s a great competitor, but he’s just a dirty human being.”
UFC President Dana White also reacted to Covington’s comments.
“It bothered everybody,” White acknowledged. “When you start going after family, whether it’s the kids, the wife, the parents, whatever, it’s just such a nasty thing to do. But again, this is one of those sports where you say horrible things and then 24 hours later it goes down.”
Edwards originally won the UFC welterweight title with a stunning head kick knockout over previous champion Kamaru Usman last August, whom he defeated in a rematch for his first title defense in March.