In the fight game, you often hear the saying, ‘you’re only as good as your last performance.’ In the case of number three-ranked UFC welterweight Leon Edwards, the anti-climatic end of his last fight unfortunately overshadowed his brilliant showing after nearly two years on the sidelines.
If you’re a casual fan watching him for the first time, that last fight may not leave a good impression. But maybe this will: a 19-year-old “Rocky” in his first bout as a professional in 2011 against Damian Zlotnicki.
Any other less-experienced fighter would likely be overcome by jitters in their first pro fight. The bright lights, cheering fans and the spectacle as a whole could be too much to take. Edwards, however, handled his debut with sheer poise.
He established cage control right off the jump and remained calm even as he was pushed against the fence. Zlotnicki tried his best to rough up his younger opponent, mixing his attacks with knees and takedown attempts.
Edwards defended the takedowns and eventually secured one of his own. He smoothly transitioned to full mount and launched a barrage of punches from up top until referee Leon Roberts called the stop to the action. Easy work.
This weekend, Edwards will be back in action against Stockton’s son Nate Diaz as the two compete in the very first non-championship, non-headliner five-rounder at UFC 263. Long-time Diaz fan here, but if we’re using logic, yeesh… I’m not so sure about this one.