After a long wait, Edwards finally has his first shot at UFC gold booked, something the Englishman and many others believe has been a long time coming. Off the back of a 10-fight unbeaten streak, Edwards will become the fourth man to attempt to dethrone longtime reigning champ Usman.
Having recovered from hand surgery earlier this year, “The Nigerian Nightmare” will return for his sixth defense at UFC 278, slated to go down in Utah on August 20.
Despite falling short against Usman back in 2015, “Rocky” believes that he’s evolved enough and has developed all the tools required to end the lengthy reign of a man believed by some to be the welterweight GOAT.
With that confidence in mind, Edwards already has his sights set on a post-Usman title defense, and it’s a name that he’s very familiar with.
Edwards Targets Full Circle In Masvidal Rivalry
Edwards has been engaged in a bitter rivalry with former two-time title challenger Masvidal ever since they came to blows backstage at The O2 arena in 2019. After “Gamebred” delivered his now infamous “three piece and a soda,” it was expected that the pair would bring their feud to the cage.
While that was finally set to happen last December at UFC 269, Masvidal was forced out due to injury. And despite the Miami native returning with a loss at the hands of Colby Covington, Edwards still holds hopes of bring a fight with the ‘BMF’ titleholder back together.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Edwards revealed that the perfect scenario would be for him to win the belt and take it back home for a UK title defense. And what better way to culminate his rivalry with Masvidal than at The O2, where it all began.
“I’ve always said that he doesn’t want to fight me. I’d have loved for that fight to happen (at UFC 269),” said Edwards.
“When I win the belt — I was saying the other day, when I win the belt, I’ll give him the title shot. That’d be a fantastic fight in the UK. We’ll bring it back to The O2, where it happened, for the title. That’s what I wanna do next after this… Imagine.
“When I win, my dream scenario would be to bring it back to London and to headline London. I’ve never had the opportunity to headline London,” added Edwards. “First, I was meant to do it against Tyron Woodley, then that got canceled ’cause of COVID. So, I want to come back home and do it.”
But given Usman’s dominance since 2019, Edwards is realistic. He expects that “The Nigerian Nightmare” would be granted an immediate rematch should he be left title-less following UFC 278.
“I believe that (an immediate Usman rematch) is what will happen as well. But I’d love to have the Masvidal fight,” said Edwards. “I think that’d be great and has a great backstory to it. But I think (Usman trilogy) will happen. I’ll beat him in August and then we’ll probably rematch in like, end of the year, December-ish.”
Should Edwards record consecutive triumphs over Usman, as well as Masvidal rebounding against the likes of Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns, the stage could become set for the bitter foes to go toe to toe in England’s capital.
Would you still like to see Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal settle their score inside the Octagon?