Former UFC welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns believes Leon Edwards is a very tough stylistic matchup for Kamaru Usman and that the Briton has the best chance of beating ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ out of all the top welterweights.
Burns, who suffered a TKO loss to Usman at UFC 258, claims Edward’s striking sets him apart from the rest of the division and that ‘Rocky’ could be Usman’s toughest test in the Octagon to date.
“I’m telling you right now, Leon Edwards is very underrated,” Burns told Brendan Schaub on a recent episode of Food Truck Diaries (h/t Craig Pekios of Low Kick MMA). “That guy is very good. Just think about it: a striker, long and a southpaw. That’s already tough, and that guy has a great team.”
“I know Kamaru pretty well, but that fight is gonna be close. That fight is gonna be close, and I think if you got these three guys, me in my opinion, Colby, Khamzat, and Leon, Leon has the best chance to beat Usman.”
“I think because he’s a striker, and he can grapple, and he can wrestle,” continued Burns. “Very long. These other guys are wrestlers. They can strike, don’t get me wrong. Both guys (Covington, Chimaev) can strike, but they are wrestlers. That guy (Edwards) is a striker.
“I think out of these three guys, Leon has more chance to beat Kamaru, and I think that fight is gonna be close. Kamaru is very smart. He’s been there a couple of times. I think he’s gonna take the fight very serious, but if he doesn’t, it’s a mistake. It’s a rematch, now fighting for the title. That guy’s been waiting for the opportunity.”
Edwards is riding a nine-fight winning streak with standout victories over Nate Diaz and Rafael dos Anjos. The 30-year-old dropped a unanimous decision to Usman at UFC on FOX 17 but that was all the way back in Dec. 2015 when both men were still new to the UFC.
A rematch has been targeted for UFC 278 in August but that date could get pushed back even further as Usman, the reigning welterweight champion, is still recovering from hand surgery.