Monday, October 3, 2022

Edwards Provides Ideal Timeline For First Title Defense

While his memorable title crowning is still fresh, UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards has looked ahead to his first defense and when it’s likely to go down.

At UFC 278 this past weekend, Utah went from a location that Edwards was barely familiar with to a state that will forever be ingrained as a major part of his legacy. That development happened courtesy of a come-from-behind victory that saw “Rocky” land a late head kick to ensure that the gold is headed back to England.

While chaos ensued in the arena soon after the finish as fans were left viewing an unconscious Kamaru Usman on the Octagon floor — an outcome that virtually nobody had predicted — the celebrations began for Edwards and his team, and carried on deep into the night.

But while the Brit will no doubt be living in the moment for weeks to come, replaying a dose of championship glory that he’s long dreamed about, talk of a trilogy is already prevalent.

Edwards Targets Early 2023 London Defense

During an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, host Ariel Helwani took time away from basking in the Brit’s glory to enquire about the likely timeline for Edwards’ return to action.

After noting that he has some pains and niggles that he needs to attend to in the coming months, Edwards suggested that his first defense could go down in March or April 2023, with the expectation being that the UFC will head across the pond around that time.

“100% it will be next year. Obviously, I have a few injuries I need to sort out. Yeah, early next year,” Edwards said. “I don’t want to be off too long. Early next year will be good, like March or April. They (UFC) normally come to London in March or April, right? So, yeah, around that time we’ll be good to go.”

In the aftermath of Edwards’ upset victory in Salt Lake City, UFC President Dana White teased a trip to the iconic Wembley Stadium in England’s capital. While the comments were said somewhat jokingly, with White long pushing against calls for a stadium show owing to the unpredictable weather, the champ has taken it and ran.

“The stadium Ariel, let’s go! Big stadium. That’s what Dana said. Let’s get it done,” Edwards said. “MMA now in the UK is booming. And to have now a world champion from the UK, and all the other guys like Paddy (Pimblett, Darren (Till); put them all on the card and let’s sell out Wembley. Now is the time. Now is the time to do it.”

With Usman expressing his own desire to compete on English soil during his first post-UFC 278 interview, it seems that the stars have well and truly aligned for Edwards to make his long-awaited return to fighting in front of a home crowd.

The question now is will it be 17,000 fans inside The O2 or over 80,000 at Wembley Stadium?

Would you like to see Leon Edwards defend his gold against Kamaru Usman in London next year?

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