Beyond Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington’s blockbuster upcoming rematch at UFC 268, the 170-pound title picture has appeared unclear. While many believe Edwards has done enough to deserve a title shot, and perhaps should have jumped “Chaos” in the queue, UFC President Dana White encouraged the Englishman to remain active if he wants to secure a championship opportunity.
After initially appearing willing to wait, “Rocky” has now put pen to paper for a fight over two years in the making. He’ll face arch-rival Jorge Masvidal at UFC 269 on December 11. Their feud began backstage at a UFC London event in 2019. After being interrupted by Edwards during a post-fight interview with Laura Sanko, “Gamebred” bust the #3-ranked contender open with the infamous “three piece and a soda” combination. Edwards will finally have the chance to exact his revenge at the final pay-per-view of the year.
Prior to the fight confirmation, Edwards and Masvidal had been embroiled in a three-way interview and social media feud with Burns. “Durinho,” who failed to capture gold at UFC 258 earlier this year, bounced back from his loss against Usman with a dominant win over Stephen Thompson in July. He appeared keen to secure a second crack at dethroning “The Nigerian Nightmare” by facing Edwards.
After becoming frustrated by the Jamaican-born Englishman’s lack of response, the Brazilian turned his attention to Masvidal. Not long after, the Miami native called for a clash with either Edwards or Burns. After a period of callouts galore, it’s Burns who remains opponent-less.
During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Edwards suggested the current scenario is most likely what the 35-year-old had hoped for. According to him, the “ugly bastard” made fake callouts and didn’t actually want to face him inside the Octagon.
“He’s an ugly bastard, that’s what I wanna say to him. Literally, Ariel, everything he posts on social media, he’s talking shit. He put his name out like, ‘I’ll fight anyone,’ but really he won’t. He’s doing it just to keep his name relevant.”
Edwards added that while the other contenders in the division have been reluctant to fight, he’s the only one who’s taking risks against low-ranked and unranked opposition.
“I’m the only one that’s taking all these risks. Khamzat [Chimaev], Masvidal, Diaz; I’m the only one who’s fighting and taking on all these lower-ranked guys… It is what it is. I keep doing my thing, keep making my move, keep making my money, and eventually I’ll be the world champion, so it’s all good.”
With the volatile nature of social media, “Rocky” believes his best strategy is to avoid the noise and focus on his own quest for UFC gold.
“The MMA world is mad. I’m coming to realize that these people are crazy. I can’t listen to it, you know, just keep doing my thing and like I said, stay focused on the task at hand. You can’t pay too much attention to it otherwise it’ll drive you mad. Some of the shit I see on social media I’m like, ‘ah mate, what’s going on?’
“Like I said, everyone out there, they’re tweeting, they’re talking shit, but I’m the only one who’s making these moves. I’m the only one that’s putting it all on the line. I’m taking a back step, fighting #6 in the world, to then fight for the title. So it’s all good. Let them talk.”
While Burns initially took issue with host Helwani in the aftermath of Edwards’ appearance on The MMA Hour, it would appear the Englishman’s sentiment about the Brazilian’s social media antics was heard. “Durinho” recently took to Twitter to suggest he was finished with calling people out on the platform, and won’t be “talking crap” anymore.
With Edwards and Masvidal set to collide in December, and the seemingly reformed Burns abandoning his previous social media tactics, it looks like the welterweight callout saga has come to an end. With that said, hopefully one man will emerge as the next number one contender for either Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington following UFC 268.
How do you think a fight between Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns would play out?