UFC

Amid a 12-fight unbeaten streak, who’s next for UFC Welterweight king Leon Edwards?

By March 21, 2023

There is a common saying that you’re not a true champion until you defend your title.

Well, if that’s the case, Leon "Rocky" Edwards can now officially call himself a UFC champion.

The 31-year-old Kingston-born British fighter, now 21-3 (1) in MMA, successfully defended his UFC Welterweight title with a majority decision win over Nigerian former Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 at the O2 Arena in London over the weekend.

It was Edwards’ second straight win over Usman, who, before their last fight, was on a 19-fight win streak. That streak included a unanimous decision victory over Edwards back in 2015.

With that being said, their chapter appears to be closed with the question now being: who is next for Leon Edwards?

One good thing about being a UFC champion is that there’s never a shortage of opponents to choose from. In some cases, fighters even get to select who they want to defend their title against, no matter how deserving they truly are of that shot.

Edwards made his attempt at this when, in his post-fight press conference, he called out veteran Jorge Masvidal (35-16) who Edwards had a viral run-in with back in 2019.

On that fateful night, interestingly at the same venue where Edwards defended his title, Masvidal, after knocking out British Welterweight Darren Till in the second round of their main event, was giving an interview backstage after the fight.

Edwards, who was also victorious on the night after securing a split decision win over Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson, made some comments while walking past Masvidal during interview before telling the Miami native to “shut up.”

Masvidal then made his way over to Edwards and the two got into an altercation, with the former landing several unanswered punches to Edwards, who declined to press charges.

Two years later, the pair were scheduled to fight, officially this time, at UFC 269 in Las Vegas before Masvidal pulled out and the bout was scrapped.

Since the incident, their careers have gone on two different paths. Edwards just defended his title and has won four of five fights, with one no contest, while Masvidal is 2-3 in his last five fights, including three straight losses. Two of those came against Usman while his last came against Colby Covington, the man who UFC President Dana White has said is next for Edwards.

Masvidal is currently ninth in the UFC Welterweight rankings and will need to beat number five-ranked Brazilian Gilbert Burns at UFC 287 next month for the UFC to even consider booking him against Edwards for the Welterweight belt.

Another contender for Edwards’ next fight is the aforementioned Colby Covington. Covington, 35, is a former Interim UFC Welterweight champion and is currently the number two-ranked Welterweight contender.

He is 2-2 in his last four fights with both losses coming in title fights against Usman. Covington, 17-3 in MMA, also weighed in as the back-up fighter for Saturday’s title fight between Edwards and Usman, signaling that he may be next in line for a title shot.

The other two main contenders are Khamzat Chimaev and Belal Muhammad.

Chimaev, ranked number three, is a Swedish wrecking ball who is currently 12-0 that could be fast-tracked to a title fight despite having only one win against a ranked fighter in the UFC. Him versus Edwards is unlikely as he is currently contemplating a move up to middleweight.

Muhammad, 22-3 in MMA, could very well have the best argument for a fight with Edwards based on merit. The 34-year-old is ranked number four and is currently on a nine-fight unbeaten streak including eight wins and one no contest.

Remember the no contest for Edwards? It came against Muhammad when they fought in a UFC Fight Night main event back in March 2021.

Edwards accidentally poked Muhammad in the eye in the second round leaving the latter unable to continue. It was determined that the poke was accidental by the referee, meaning, instead of a Muhammad win by disqualification, it was ruled a no contest. Perhaps those two could run it back with the belt on the line.

In the end, whether it’s Edwards vs Masvidal, Edwards vs Covington, Edwards vs Chimaev or Edwards vs Muhammad 2, we will all be watching. 

 

 

Bradley Jacks

Bradley Jacks is a budding journalist and an avid sports fan. His love of research and sports has led him to SportsMax.tv, a place where those passions work hand in hand to allow him to produce content.

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