Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards is watching ‘Fight Island’ very closely this weekend. The 4th ranked welterweight in the UFC told MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck that he’s hoping the to meet the main event’s winner in the very near future.
“I’ll be watching this weekend,” he said. “I would love to fight the winner because I have history with both men. I’d love to fight either, man.”
Edwards has traded blows with both UFC wetlerweight champion Kamaru Usman and title challenger Jorge Masvidal in the past. However, not all that conflict went down inside the Octagon.
The Englishman, whose current winning streak stands at eight fights, last lost all the way back in 2015, to Usman. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ kept on winning after that fight, carving his way to—and then through—then-champion Tyron Woodley.
Edwards’ history with Masvidal is far more recent. At a UFC Fight Night in London in March, 2019 Edwards and Masvidal got into a scuffle backstage. The exchange, which Masvidal coined a ‘three piece with a soda’ happened after Edwards beat Gunnar Nelson and Masvidal bested Darren Till.
When asked to breakdown the match-up between Usman and Masvidal, Edwards said he expected Masvidal to be well prepared, despite being a short notice replacement for the COVID-19 struck Gilbert Burns.
“He had been preparing for Usman for the last two to three months,” Edwards said, alluding to the UFC’s original plan to match Masvidal and Usman before Burns stormed into title contention with a win over Woodley last month.\
“He was meant to fight Usman in July in the beginning. I think Usman is going in there less prepared probably because he was preparing for two people, [and] Masvidal was preparing for one person. It’ll be an interesting fight to see how it plays out.”
Even though he believes ‘Gamebred’ is prepped for Usman, Edwards still thinks the champion has the edge in their fight.
“He’s got a puncher’s chance,” said Edwards, referring to Masvidal. “I think the more technical, better fighter is Usman. He’s got better wrestling, is bigger, stronger, better cardio. I think Usman should get it done, but Masvidal has a puncher’s chance. Look what he did to Ben (Askren), even though Usman and Ben are two different people. But you never know.”
Edwards also admitted that he wants Usman to win, because he doesn’t believe Masvidal would take on worthy title challengers.
“If Masvidal wins, he’s calling out f—king (Nate) Diaz, he’s calling out (Stephen) Thompson, just random people who aren’t even in the top-five. I can’t imagine, if he does win the belt, what he’s gonna do with it.”
If Usman were to retain the belt, Edwards believes there is a chance the UFC either gives him the next title shot or matches him with Burns for a number one contender spot. Burns’ recent win over Woodley came about only after an original match-up between Edwards and Woodley fell apart due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to Edwards vs. Woodley being canceled, Edwards has been on the sidelines for a year. His last appearance was on July 20, 2019. That’s when he got perhaps the best win of his career; a unanimous decision victory over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.