LAS VEGAS – The UFC welterweight belt is back in circulation, as the promotion booked an 170-pound championship fight for the final pay-per-view of the year.
Champion Leon Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) defends his belt against Colby Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) in the main event of UFC 296, which takes place Dec. 16 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Although the fight is signed, there are many in the division that don’t think that should’ve been the right choice of challenger, and that includes Joaquin Buckley.
“Oh, it just got booked?,” Buckley told MMA Junkie and other reporters at the UFC Fight Night 229 media day when asked for a prediction for Edwards vs. Covington. “I don’t know, to be honest with you. It don’t make any sense to me. To put some respect on his name, Belal Muhammad should’ve been fighting for the belt, you know.
“Colby Covington, to be honest, I can’t even remember the last fight he had. Who did he fight last? I can’t remember. Regardless, I think Belal Muhammad should’ve definitely been up next to fight for the belt, so I don’t know how that Leon and Colby Covington fight goes. I rather had seen Belal fight for the title.”
Covington last fought in March 2022 when he defeated bitter rival Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 272. Prior to that, he had lost to then champion Kamaru Usman in a decision back in November 2021. Belal Muhammad, on the other hand, is unbeaten in his past 10 UFC fights.
Buckley (16-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) returns to the octagon Saturday on the main card of UFC Fight Night 229 at the UFC Apex. He takes on Alex Morono (23-8 MMA, 12-5 UFC) in a welterweight matchup, which streams on ESPN+.
Buckley respects Morono, but he intends to finish him and show that he’s part of a higher class of welterweights.
“He’s got a couple decent wins in the organization,” Buckley said. “He’s done enough to stay in the organization. My biggest thing is to show that there’s levels to this game, even though he’s a veteran, and he’s been around for a minute. I just want to show him it’s a whole different ball game when you’re fighting a person like me at this level.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 229.