For the last several years, Leon Edwards has been in one of the trickiest positions in MMA. Despite being unbeaten over his last 10 fights, Edwards has remained unable to grab that elusive title shot due to a combination of injury, the COVID pandemic, and a few bad breaks. However, with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman having cleaned up most of the top contenders, it looks like Edwards is finally going to get his shot at the belt.
“100 percent,” Dana White told Aaron Bronsteter when asked if Edwards was next in line for Usman. “That kid’s had a rough run. He deserves it. If you look at it, Colby lost to (Usman) twice, Gilbert lost, Leon’s next. He’s number three.”
Edwards has had a rough run the past few years. After racking up eight straight wins following his defeat to Usman back in 2015, Edwards then saw a possible title fight-earning opportunity ripped away from him with the COVID pandemic hit in 2020 and cancelled his planned bout against Tyron Woodley. From there, Edwards instead agreed to face superstar prospect Khamzat Chimaev but that bout was ultimately rescheduled and then cancelled outright after Chimaev contracted COVID. Instead, Edwards faced Belal Muhammad with the hope of earning a title shot. Instead, Edwards was once again delayed when that fight ended in a No Contest due to an eye poke.
Finally, Edwards appeared to be given his big break, a fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 263 that was sure to set him up for a title fight, however, after dominating Diaz for 24 minutes, a last-minute error resulted in Diaz nearly pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history. Though Edwards got the win, many felt the last-minute heroics from Diaz may have soured the UFC on an Edwards title fight but it appears that Leon’s willingness to face Chimaev when others would not put him in the good graces of the UFC.
“We were in a matchmaking meeting on Tuesday and I’m always like, ‘Nobody wants to fight him, nobody wants to fight him,’” White said. “Leon Edwards signed the bout agreement to fight him and I think he was ranked number three 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.”
Now Edwards will need to be ready to roll against the current top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and a man who has already soundly defeated him once. While there is currently no set timeline on when a welterweight title fight will occur, given the current schedule of events, the best guess is that Usman and Edwards will lock horns sometimes in the late spring or early summer.
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Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all next week.
Who wins this weekend?
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