LONDON – If anything goes sideways in the next 24 or so hours, the UFC has a plan in place to salvage its main event.
Former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) weighed in Friday as a backup fighter for the UFC 286 headliner and came in at 170 pounds on the nose. Covington weighed in about 25 minutes into the two-hour window.
By the time he came to the scale, former champ, now challenger Kamaru Usman (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC) already had made weight at 170, but champ Leon Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) hadn’t come to the scale yet. A few minutes later, though, Edwards hit 170, as well, to make the headliner official.
It is common for the UFC to have backup fighters in place for title fights, but when asked at Thursday’s news conference in London if they had heard of a backup fighter, both Edwards and Usman said they hadn’t heard about Covington.
Covington fought twice for the welterweight title when Usman was champion. At UFC 245 in December 2019, he lost with a fifth-round TKO. At UFC 268 in November 2021, Usman outworked him for a unaimous decision.
Covington beat former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos in June 2018 to win an interim welterweight title, but he eventually was stripped of it and never fought in a title unification bout.
Covington most recently beat his fierce rival and former friend and teammate Jorge Masvidal with a unanimous decision at UFC 272 a little more than a year ago. Not long after that win, Masvidal allegedly attacked Covington outside a Miami Beach restaurant. That case is slowly moving its way through the legal system, and Masvidal’s trial for charges including aggravated battery has a scheduled May 22 start date.
UFC 286 takes place Saturday at The O2 in London. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie