UFC 296: What’s Next for Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, and More

As the dust settles on the final UFC fight card of 2023, one thing remains certain – UFC 296’s main event, where Leon Edwards defended his welterweight title against Colby Covington, will echo in conversations well into the break until 2024. Edwards showcased unparalleled speed and precision, making Covington’s return to the Octagon after a two-year hiatus a challenging one.

Leon Edwards: Dominance and Dilemma

A Champion’s Dilemma

Nothing short of impressive, Edwards boasts a 12-fight win streak, including victories over Kamaru Usman and, most recently, Colby Covington. The question arises: what’s next for Edwards? Rumors of moving up are circulating, and while he has a compelling case for it, the reality is that work remains in the welterweight division.

Muhammad’s Pursuit

Hot on Edwards’ heels is Belal Muhammad, on a nine-fight win streak and proving his mettle with each victory. Having taken short-notice fights and delivering commendable performances, Muhammad has earned his shot and stands as the rightful next contender.

Wild Card: Middleweight Ambition

Edwards’ exceptional track record opens the door for speculation, including a potential move to middleweight. While Edwards can certainly make demands, the division’s depth suggests that challenges within should be met before exploring other weight classes.

Colby Covington: A Night to Forget

Burns Beckons

Covington’s night at UFC 296 was less than stellar, and the path forward points to a matchup with Gilbert Burns. Both fighters are coming off less-than-ideal performances, making this clash a necessary step for both to reclaim their positions in the rankings.

Poirier’s Grudge Match

In the realm of potential matchups, a grudge match between Covington and Dustin Poirier emerges. Former teammates turned rivals, their history adds an enticing narrative, making it a marketable bout that could draw significant attention.

Wild Card: Selling Grudges

While title fights often dominate pay-per-view sales, sometimes a grudge match takes the spotlight. If the UFC aims for a lucrative clash, Covington vs. Poirier could be the spectacle fans didn’t know they needed.

Flyweight Division: Pantoja’s Reign

Moreno vs. Albazi Winner

Looking at the flyweight division, Alexandre Pantoja’s victory over Brandon Royval solidified his position. The path forward suggests the winner of the Brandon Moreno vs. Amir Albazi fight on Feb. 24 should be next in line.

Noche in September

An intriguing possibility arises if Dana White decides to extend the wait for the flyweight title shot until the Mexican celebration night in September. This could lead to a matchup between Pantoja and the winner of Moreno vs. Albazi in the interim.


UFC 296 left fans with unforgettable moments and questions about the future. As the fighters regroup and prepare for what comes next, the landscape of the UFC welterweight and flyweight divisions holds the promise of exciting matchups and new challenges. Only time will reveal the paths chosen by Edwards, Covington, and the rising stars of the flyweight division.

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