Thursday, May 19, 2022

Edwards: No Replacement Fighter Would Have Made Sense For UFC 269

UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards doesn’t believe there’s a single name that would have made sense as a replacement fighter for him to face at UFC 269.

After being denied a title shot that many believe he’s done more than enough to deserve, Edwards accepted a clash with arch-rival Jorge Masvidal. The foes, whose feud began with an altercation backstage at a UFC London event in 2019, were set to collide at the final pay-per-view of the year on December 11.

With just a month before the event, “Gamebred” withdrew due to an injury. With few details revealed about the extent of the problem, “Rocky” doubted the legitimacy of Masvidal’s reason for pulling out, and suggested he always expected the Miami native to “run.”

After news of the cancelation broke, attention immediately turned to whether or not the UFC would look to keep the Englishman on the card and pursue a replacement opponent. Edwards’ fellow top-five contender Gilbert Burns and the surging Khamzat Chimaev appeared to be leading the charge.

After announcing his intention to target a title fight next, and the UFC’s confirmation of the UFC 269 main card during this past weekend’s UFC Vegas 42 broadcast, the event will seemingly go on without the presence of Edwards. During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, the Jamaican-born Brit explained why he turned down the chance to remain on the card. In his mind, no replacement option made sense.

“They didn’t force me. They asked me, ‘Would you stay on the card?’ Obviously, if the fight makes sense I would, you know. But there’s no one else that makes sense. I’m the only guy that’s doing what I’m doing. Everyone else, they’re winning one, they’re losing one. There’s no one else.

“The only reason I was making a stop off (on the way to the title) was because of Jorge and the history that we had, you know, the background and how to build a fight and, you know, get me up in the morning to wanna work hard and wanna go and perform. There’s literally no one else… me and my manager went back, we had a look at the division. There was no one. There’s no one for me to fight. I could fight just to fight if I wanted to but what’s the point?”

Edwards Doesn’t Believe Chimaev has Earned A Fight With Him

The main name brought up as the desired replacement amongst fans and pundits was that of Khamzat Chimaev. After returning to the Octagon after more than a year away at UFC 267 last month, “Borz” shot straight into the welterweight top 10 with a first-round submission victory over Li Jingliang.

Given his emphatic return, and the fact Edwards and Chimaev had been booked to fight last December and earlier this year, many suggested the Chechen-born Swede should have been drafted in to replace Masvidal. With that not coming to fruition, Edwards told Okamoto why he isn’t fighting Chimaev on December 11.

Having earned his place at the top of the division, “Rocky” doesn’t understand why he’d risk his spot against someone he doesn’t believe has earned the matchup.

“I feel like I’ve paved my way. I’ve done what I need to do to earn my position. I don’t feel he’s (Chimaev) earned to fight the #3 guy in the world. The only reason I was gonna fight him before was because I was inactive for such a long time. I wanted to get active and I wanted to fight, you know. That was the only reason.

“I’ve been matched up, what, three times with him? And three times the fight fell out. So, I reckon down the road we’ll probably fight. Let him work his way up, let him do what he needs to do. I’m looking ahead and looking forward to the title shot.”

Having failed to squeeze a third fight into 2021, Edwards is now setting his sights on championship glory. The Englishman is hoping to fight Kamaru Usman, who defended his belt against Colby Covington at UFC 268, in early 2022.

Do you think Leon Edwards should fight for the title next?

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