After successfully defending his title at UFC 296, what’s next for Leon Edwards?

MMA: UFC 296 - Edwards vs Covington
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend in the main event of UFC 296, the welterweight title was on the line. Leon “Rocky” Edwards (22-3, 1 NC) was looking to successfully defend his title as he took on former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (17-4).

Going into the fight, I thought that Edwards needed to come forward and pressure Covington. Covington thrives off being able to push the pace to neutralize his opponents. Shockingly, Covington didn’t start moving forward until late in the fight. It was Leon Edwards who was pushing forward all night long.

Edwards did a great job of staying long and he blasted Covington’s legs with vicious kicks. He really neutralized Covington and the former interim champion couldn’t find any success. Covington was able to win the final round with his wrestling and pressure, but it was a little too late. Leon Edwards won the decision and retained his welterweight title at UFC 296.

What’s next after UFC 296?

You could tell that Edwards was a little disappointed in his method of victory. While he was pleased to win, I know that he was down that he couldn’t finish Covington. What’s going to frustrate Edwards is that if he watches back the tape, I think he’d see moments where he could have pushed to get Covington out of there.

Nevertheless, he still walks away with his title. So, what’s next for the UFC welterweight champion? In my opinion the answer is clear and the answer is Belal Muhammad. Edwards was dismissive of Belal Muhammad saying that there are other options, but there’s honestly not.

Edwards just defeated Covington, he has two wins over Kamaru Usman so that takes out them. Belal Muhammad had a dominant win over Gilbert Burns who is ranked fourth and a dominant win over Stephen Thompson who’s ranked sixth. The only other option in the UFC’s top seven is Shavkat Rakhmonov.

Shavkat is likely going to need ankle surgery so he might not be ready for a bit. There is only one option and that option is Belal Muhammad.