Jamaican-born British Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards now has a date and an opponent for his next title defense.

The 32-year-old will try to fend off number two-ranked Belal Muhammad in the main event at UFC 304 set for July 27 at the Co-op Live in Manchester, England.

Edwards will enter the fight in the midst of a 12-fight unbeaten streak while Muhammad is unbeaten in his last 10 contests.

The pair fought previously at UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs Muhammad on March 13, 2021 in Las Vegas. That bout ended in a no contest after an accidental eye-poke by Edwards in the second of five rounds rendered Muhammad unable to continue.

After than unfortunate fight, Edwards went on to defeat fan favorite Nate Diaz by unanimous decision in the main event at UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona on June 12, 2021.

His next fight proved to be his crowning moment as he secured a spectacular head-kick knockout of Kamaru Usman to claim the UFC Welterweight title at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City on August 20, 2022.

Heading into that fight, Usman was on a 20-fight win streak and was the number one pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. The Nigerian also had a win over Edwards back in 2015.

Edwards then went on to defeat Usman again, this time via unanimous decision, in their trilogy fight at UFC 286 in London on March 18, 2023 before defending his belt for the second time with another unanimous decision win over Colby Covington at UFC 296 on December 16 last year.

Muhammad has also been on a tear since that eye-poke.The 35-year-old recorded unanimous decision victories over legends Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson at UFC 263 and UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukas, respectively, to close out 2021.

He then secured a third consecutive unanimous decision win, this time beating Vicente Luque in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Muhammad 2 on April 16, 2022.

At UFC 280 on October 22, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, Muhammad won performance of the night for his knockout win over Sean Brady and in his last fight, he defeated former title challenger Gilbert Burns via unanimous decision at UFC 288 on May 6, 2023 in New Jersey.

 

 

Jamaican-born UFC Welterweight Champion says plans are in motion for his to defend his belt at the UFC’s biggest event of 2024, UFC 300, in Las Vegas in April.

The reigning welterweight champion was in attendance for a match in Birmingham, England, between his club Aston Villa and Burnley on December 30 and he was brought on the field to address the fans at halftime.

During his brief interview, Edwards announced that he plans to fight at UFC 300 and then also defend his title again sometime this summer in Birmingham.

“I will defend my belt in April at UFC 300 in Vegas again, then hopefully in the summertime get a show back in Birmingham at Villa Park,” Edwards said.

“I’m in talks with the UFC, so hopefully we can get it done,” he added.

The UFC has announced several high-profile bouts for its milestone event on April 13, including Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic and Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar, but the lineup is still without a title fight.

It appears that an Edwards title defense could be in the works or, at the very least, that the champion is volunteering his services.

Edwards closed out 2023 with a unanimous decision win over Colby Covington at UFC 296 in December. It was Edwards’ second consecutive successful defense of the welterweight title and his 12th straight win (excluding one no-contest).

That one no-contest came against current #2 ranked welterweight, Belal Muhammad, who could very well be Edwards’ next opponent.

Since that fight three years ago, Muhammad has won five fights in a row. Overall, Muhammad’s record stands at 23-3 and he hasn’t lost a fight since 2019.

 

In a masterful display of skill and resilience, Jamaican-born UFC welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, successfully defended his title at UFC 296 on Saturday night, overcoming a tumultuous past and a barrage of distasteful remarks from his opponent, Colby Covington.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and later moving to Birmingham, England, Edwards' life was marred by tragedy and involvement in criminal activities. However, the 30-year-old fighter turned his life around at the age of 17 when he joined an MMA club, eventually climbing the ranks to become the welterweight champion.

Facing off against Colby Covington, a fighter notorious for his brash behavior, Edwards encountered a highly charged pre-fight atmosphere, with Covington crossing lines by using the death of Edwards' father as a psychological weapon. Despite the emotional turmoil, Edwards remained focused, delivering a performance that showcased not only his physical prowess but also his mental fortitude.

The grudge match lived up to its billing, with Edwards dominating the cage throughout the 25-minute contest. The judges unanimously scored the fight 49-46 in favor of the Briton, who controlled the pace with bruising leg kicks and superior striking.

In a post-fight interview, Edwards expressed the emotional weight of the bout, stating, “This fight was very emotional for me. This guy used my dad’s death as entertainment, and it took a lot for me to calm down and stay focused. To this day, it breaks my heart.”

Despite Covington's attempts at a comeback in the later rounds, Edwards maintained composure and control, leaving no room for doubt regarding the judges' decision. Edwards acknowledged his disappointment in not securing a stoppage win but commended Covington as a tough competitor while expressing disdain for his character.

The victory not only cements Leon Edwards' status as a dominant force in the welterweight division but also serves as a testament to his ability to rise above personal demons and external provocations. As the Jamaican-born fighter continues his journey, the UFC 296 triumph stands as a defining moment in his career, showcasing the heart of a champion who has overcome adversity to secure his place at the top of the mixed martial arts world.

 

Leon Edwards will defend his welterweight title against Colby Covington in the UFC 296 main event on December 16 in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old Kingston-born Edwards has not lost in his last 12 fights, and he is 21-3 with one no-contest lifetime. He most recently defeated ex-champ Kamaru Usman by majority decision in March to defend his belt. Edwards first won the belt with a come-from-behind knockout over Usman at UFC 278 in August last year.

The 35-year-old Covington is coming off a unanimous decision win over Jorge Masvidal in March. Covington, who is 17-3 lifetime, has previously fought for the UFC welterweight belt twice, losing to Usman on both occasions.

Leon Edwards suspects Colby Covington is jealous of him as the UFC welterweight champion insisted any fight between the pair will only happen on his terms.

Covington has twice come up short when fighting for the 170lb title after losing on both occasions to Kamaru Usman, who Edwards dethroned as the division’s kingpin last August and then beat again in March.

Despite Covington’s most recent contest being in March last year, the American, who weighed in as the back-up option for Edwards-Usman II, has been installed as the Birmingham fighter’s next opponent.

Covington was indignant a July date in London was a non-starter for Edwards, who believes he has taken some of his rival’s star power and is adamant any future foe will have to dance to his tune.

Edwards told the PA news agency: “They were saying if Kamaru wasn’t champion, it would be Colby. That was the narrative he was trying to push but then when I went out there and did what I did, now I think the jealousy is coming in.

“Within a week (of beating Usman the second time), Colby was like ‘you need to fight me’. I was like ‘chill out’. It goes off my timing, I don’t work off him. He’s the contender, I’m the champion.

“He’s trying to fool everyone, like everything goes off what he says but it doesn’t. We’re still figuring out the next step and I’ll let him know when I’m ready.

“I’ve worked hard to be in this position to be able to call the shots and who I fight and when I fight. Now I’m here I should be able to dictate within reason who goes next and who makes the most sense.”

Covington’s recent inactivity – he has fought just three times since December 2019 and both his wins have come against now-retired fighters – meant Edwards was initially resistant to a showdown.

Edwards now seems to have warmed to the idea following Covington’s trash-talking and has his sights set on the fight taking place at UFC 294, which is set to take place on October 21 in Abu Dhabi.

Edwards said: “He’s definitely at the top of the list as far as who’s next. I just want to fight him because I don’t like him so that will be even more fuel for me in training.

“I think he’s a weirdo. He’s an alright fighter. But look at his resume compared to my resume.

“He hasn’t beaten anyone in the top five, he’s fought people at the back end of their careers and his last five fights are win-lose-win-lose-win, it’s not consistent.”

Edwards is unbeaten in his last 12 fights – with 11 wins and one no-contest against Belal Muhammad, who is also in the frame for a title shot after beating Gilbert Burns earlier this month.

Edwards said: “As far as skill-sets go, I truly don’t believe (Belal) is on my level. He’s a good fighter but I feel there are two different levels between me and him.

“I want to fight them all one day. They’re all similar fights, wrestling-based kind of guys. There’s no trickiness with the opponents.”

The Jamaica-born 31-year-old will be swapping the octagon for the football pitch after signing up for Soccer Aid at Old Trafford on June 11, where he will be in goal for a World XI against England.

The opportunity to be on the same team as Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and play against Paul Scholes is a dream come true for Edwards, who lived in the shadow of Villa Park when he first moved to the UK with his family aged nine.

He added: “To be able to share the pitch with people like that, for a kid like me it’s a dream come true. It’s a bucket list moment for me and my friends and team are excited.”

:: Tickets for Soccer Aid For UNICEF on Sunday 11th June 2023 are now on sale via www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets with a family of four able to attend for just £60 – two adults and two children

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. 

 

 

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