Leon Edwards can’t afford to lose to Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 21, which is why ‘Rocky’ is taking his opponent very seriously ahead of their welterweight headliner at the UFC Apex.
Edwards knows a loss would be disastrous for his career and possibly ruin his chances of ever fighting for the welterweight title.
“If I go out there and f**king lose to this kid, then all these title fights and all these big fights goes away,” Edwards told MMA Fighting ahead of the matchup. “I have to go out there and make a statement and show there’s levels to this and I deserve in the top tier of the promotion and that’s it really.
“’[I’m] taking him serious, I am focused 100 percent on Belal Muhammad cause if I go out there and lose, all them f**king title fights and No. 1 contender fight goes away. So that’s my priority. I’m focused fully on him and we’ll go from there after that.”
Edwards is currently riding an eight-fight win streak and believes a win over the No. 13-ranked Muhammad in tonight’s UFC Fight Night main event will guarantee him a title shot against Kamaru Usman.
“After this fight, that’s nine fights in a row,” Edwards said. “That’s the third most [wins] in the welterweight history of the promotion. I truly believe so. Everyone else had their go, had their chance to fight for a title and they all came up short. Colby [Covington] got stopped. [Gilbert] Burns got stopped. [Jorge] Masvidal got grounded out. So I feel I’ve worked my way back up. I’ve earned this spot and I truly believe I deserve the next shot at the title.
“When I go out there and look good and put Belal away and call out Kamaru Usman, like you said, I’m in the perfect position to jump the line and give me what I deserve. What I’ve been deserving. It’s not like I’ve only got one or two wins. This is my ninth win in a row. So I truly believe I deserve it and hopefully after this fight, we got to the UFC and see what’s on the table.”
UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Edwards will get the next title shot if he beats Muhammad.
UFC Vegas 21: Edwards vs. Muhammad takes place on March 13 at the UFC Apex center in Las Vegas.