Usman (20-1) won the belt from Tyron Woodley in 2019 and has since retained it five times – against three different opponents.
The Nigerian-American has twice successfully defended the gold against Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington respectively, with his most recent win coming against the latter in December. Between those bouts, Usman beat friend and former teammate Gilbert Burns.
Now, Usman is set for another rematch, with White confirming that Briton Edwards (19-3) will challenge the 34-year-old next.
“One hundred per cent,” the UFC president told TSN.
“That kid’s had a rough run. He deserves it. If you look at it, Colby lost to [Usman] twice, Gilbert [Burns] lost, Leon’s next. He’s No3.”
Usman outpointed Edwards in 2015, and the Briton has won nine in a row – though he did fight to a no contest against Belal Muhammad in March, with the bout stopped due to an accidental eye poke by Edwards.
The 30-year-old’s most recent victory came against Nate Diaz in June, with Edwards surviving a late scare after dominating the American on the feet for the best part of five rounds.
That bout was the UFC’s first ever non-title co-main event to be scheduled for five rounds. Edwards was then set for another contest under the same stipulation in December, but opponent Masvidal withdrew due to injury.
Masvidal is now scheduled to face friend-turned-rival Covington in the main event of UFC 272 in March, in a rare non-title pay-per-view main event.
As well as December’s cancelled clash with Masvidal, Edwards saw a match-up against rising star Khamzat Chimaev fall through twice in 2021.
“We were in a matchmaking meeting on Tuesday and I’m always like: ‘Nobody wants to fight [Chimaev], nobody wants to fight him,’” White said.
“Leon Edwards signed the bout agreement to fight him and I think he was ranked No3 at the time. So I wanted to make that clear publicly. He absolutely wanted to fight him, signed the bout agreement and then Khamzat got Covid and that was the end of that.
“I’m bringing it up for a reason because I said that and never gave that kid the credit he deserved. He said yes to it, signed the bout agreement and was ready to roll.”