All three judges scored the bout 49-46 for Edwards, who is now unbeaten in 13 straight fights.
Edwards (22-3, 1 NC), the No. 4 fighter in ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings, made his second successful title defense. His previous fight came in March, when he beat former champ Kamaru Usman by majority decision.
Covington (17-4), who fought for the first time since March 2022, took a much more lax, cautious approach than usual in the opening two rounds. Normally an aggressive wrestler and high-volume striker who keeps the pressure on his opponent, Covington instead let Edwards press forward and dictate pace and distance.
Edwards stayed measured but did damage to Covington with hard leg kicks while tagging him with crisp, accurate punches.
Covington finally shot forward with a takedown attempt midway through the third round and landed it against the fence, but Edwards quickly got back to his feet and, in a bit of a surprise, managed to take Covington down himself. Back on their feet, Edwards continued to tag Covington with kicks to the lead leg.
Covington showed some more urgency and shot for another takedown early in Round 4, but Edwards stuffed it and briefly caught him in a choke, forcing Covington to retreat. Edwards, in total control of the fight, confidently began to engage Covington on the ground instead of remaining content to keep the fight on the feet.
Covington scored another takedown early in the final round, getting a hold of Edwards leg before spinning him to the canvas. Edwards broke loose, but again, instead of keeping the fight on the feet, he took Covington to the ground and briefly threatened with a triangle and armbar. The risk allowed Covington to gain top position, where he was able to land some ground and pound for the final 90 seconds, albeit without doing much damage.
Covington made his third title challenge after twice being unsuccessful against Usman. Saturday marked his first fight since he beat Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision in March 2022.