No. 2-ranked UFC welterweight Colby Covington surprised media members and fans alike when he stepped on the scale at the official UFC 286 weigh-in as the backup fighter for Saturday’s title clash.
The event marks the promotion’s return to the O2 Arena in London, England. And unbeknownst to virtually everyone in the MMA world, “Chaos” was tasked as a replacement should champion Leon Edwards or former king Kamaru Usman not make it to fight night.
Covington hit the scale at 170 pounds but it appears he won’t be needed. Edwards and “The Nigerian Nightmare” both made championship weight as well, and they’re both champing at the bit to make the Octagon walk on March 18. UFC president Dana White took part in a media scrum on Friday and said that not even his son knew Covington signed on as a backup. But, White stopped short of guaranteeing Covington a shot at gold next.
“That I don’t know,” White said about Covington fighting for the welterweight championship after the Edward vs. Usman trilogy is settled. “Obviously he stepped up for this and did this thing, and he’s obviously one of the best in the world. But, yeah. He’s right there.
“We always have a backup. My son actually hit me up and said, ‘Dad, I don’t understand. What’s going on? Why did Colby Covington weigh in?’ So I had to explain it to him.
“There’s always a backup for a [title] fight, it just never gets as much attention as Colby did today.”
White then stated that he wasn’t aware Covington’s role was “such a big secret.”
Edwards & Usman ‘Knew About It a While Ago,’ Ariel Helwani Tweeted About Covington’s Backup Role
Before the weigh-in ceremony — at the UFC 286 pre-fight press conference — both Edwards and Usman were asked about a “rumor” circulating around that Covington was in London as a backup. Both fighters said they didn’t know anything about it.
However, according to renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, both parties were aware that Chaos would be their opponent if the other had fallen out of the headliner.
“Covington’s weigh-in today may have been a surprise to the public, but I’m told both Edwards and Usman knew about it a while ago,” Helwani tweeted.
Covington Has Remained Virtually Silent About His Fighting Future
A major reason why Covington’s UK appearance was so shocking to the MMA community was because he has remained silent about his UFC comeback. Chaos hasn’t competed since March 2022 when he defeated Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision during the UFC 272 main event. Covington and Masvidal are currently locked in a legal battle as Chaos has accused Masvidal of punching him multiple times outside a Miami restaurant around two weeks after their fight. Since then, Covington’s lips have been sealed about his next Octagon appearance.
Although Covington is 0-2 against Usman in UFC welterweight title fights, it could be that Chaos has been laying low and waiting to see how the trilogy match plays out. Should Edwards defend his belt against Usman, Covington may campaign for a championship tilt against Rocky.
And if Usman regains his belt, Covington will most likely have to beat one or two top contenders to place himself back into the title mix.