Edwards, who hasn’t lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Usman (19-1 MMA, 14-0 UFC) in 2015, was en route to a dominant performance against Nate Diaz at UFC 263 until he was rocked in the final minute of the contest.
Although the slip-up didn’t cost Edwards (19-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) the fight, it cost him the title shot in Usman’s eyes.
“Absolutely because that was an audition,” Usman said about Edwards’ performance in an interview with Daniel Cormier. “You audition for me then I decide it’s you or that guy. Myself and the promotion, we’ll sit down and we’ll say, ‘I like this audition tape. Let’s go ahead and pick him next’ and he went out there and he was auditioning and for a while, he did OK, but then, all of a sudden, the 25th minute, you sh*t the bed. You can’t do that. So that’s what forced the promotion’s hand and my hand because this is business now.”
He continued, “Someone has to keep it real with this guy. At the end of the day we know – let’s be honest here, we know this is a business. This is a partnership between us and the promotion. It’s a partnership, you got to give them something to work with. You gotta give them something to sell and they have thrown you bone after bone after bone. Let’s just be honest, based on that last performance, you can’t go out there and do that with Nate Diaz. You can’t do that.”
Instead, Colby Covington is the one getting another crack at Usman and the pair will throw down in the main event of UFC 268 on Nov. 6. Edwards on the other hand, will be taking on Jorge Masvidal in a highly anticipated grudge match, which takes place just one month later at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.