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Leon Edwards not fighting at UFC London as he readies himself for likely Colby Covington fight in October

Leon Edwards insists Colby Covington has not "earned" his opportunity to fight for the world title, labelling the American a "Btech Usman"; Edwards recently retained his welterweight title with victory over Kamaru Usman.

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UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards exclusively speaks to Sky Sports about Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and why he won't be fighting in London

Leon Edwards has ruled out fighting at UFC London in July and has admitted he will 'probably' defend his welterweight championship against Colby Covington in October. 

The Brit retained his title with a majority decision victory in his trilogy fight against Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 last month, extending his winning streak to 12 and consolidating his spot at the top of the division.

He is now targeting a return to action in Abu Dhabi later this autumn in order to allow himself time to get back to full fitness.

"No [he will not feature at UFC London as far as he's concerned] unless it comes with some stupid money, the bag always talks!" Edwards told Sky Sports.

"Unless the stupid money comes I don't see it, I'd literally have to get back in training camp next week.

"I fought under a month ago. March to July I don't think makes sense.

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Go back to 2015 where Leon Edwards took just eight seconds to knockout Seth Baczynski! Watch all of Edwards' fights on UFC Fight Pass

"In the last year or so I've fought three times I think, I'd love to fight now towards the end of the year. The Abu Dhabi card would be great.

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"That would be perfect, I get time to nurse my injuries, I get time to get back into it, I feel like Abu Dhabi would be perfect."

Edwards did, however, hint there may have been a chance he would have fought in London had Jorge Masvidal beaten Gilbert Burns at the weekend, the pair having famously clashed backstage to fuel an intriguing rivalry in 2019. The 38-year-old Masvidal notably announced his retirement having suffered a unanimous decision defeat to Burns in Miami.

"Maybe [if it was Masvidal]. There's a story behind it, about the UK and the backstage thing, I know the fans would have wanted it," said Edwards. "Even Masvidal wouldn't have earned it if he beat Gilbert, there's a story there and bad blood there and something there to sell."

Even without him, Edwards is confident of another sell-out in London and has urged for heavyweight star Tom Aspinall to be given the chance to headline the night.

As for his own immediate future, the 31-year-old stated it will "probably" be Covington that awaits when he returns to the Octagon later in the year.

"I think Colby Covington is like a Btech Usman, there's nothing there," he said. "If that's what they want I'll give them that, the opponent doesn't bother me, it's more the date.

"I remember when I was going through the pandemic he was like 'who's Leon Edwards?' and now look, he's like begging me for the title shot.

"How times have changed, now I'm king of the hill and I'll sit back and let him beg some more. I've earned it.

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Edwards maintains Covington is yet to have warranted his shot at the title, though remains willing to fight any challenger put in front of him.

"At the moment in the division there's no clear No 1 contender, Colby is coming off two losses and one win, Gilbert similar," he explained. "I had to go earn like 10 fights in a row to fight for the world title, these guys are winning one fight, losing one fight and then fighting for a world title.

"The 'why not?' is Colby has been uninjured, sitting on the sidelines, turning down fights for over a year, nobody else has done that and got a title shot from it.

"If you believe you're a champion you should fight all the guys offered to you. He hasn't earned his position, you can't sit down uninjured for over a year, turn down fights and then say you want a title fight.

"Now I'm the champion, I decide, Colby isn't a champion so doesn't decide anything. That's the difference.

"If it is Colby it's Colby, they are all similar fights anyway. There's nothing fearful about Colby."

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