After a tough few years of COVID-19, fight cancellations, lengthy layoffs, and wide-ranging doubts from many fans and pundits, Jamaican-born Brit Edwards emerged from the other side with UFC gold in his possession courtesy of a shocking and memorable head-kick KO of Kamaru Usman at UFC 278.
Having been in control of the fight, and given his lengthy and dominant reign on the throne, it appears that the logical next step in the 170-pound title picture will be a trilogy fight between the newly crowned champ and Usman, who are now 1-1 in their series.
But the presence of one of MMA’s biggest superstars is still driving a debate.
After seeing his longtime rival capture the belt in Salt Lake City, Masvidal — who’s on a three-fight losing skid — campaigned for a shot online, citing his history with “Rocky” as evidence that a collision in the UK would be Edwards’ biggest fight.
While former opponent Darren Till has backed the idea that “Gamebred” would represent a bigger opponent for a London-held event, the likes of Daniel Cormier and the champ’s coach Dave Lovell have called on Edwards to stick Masvidal at the back of the line having seen the Englishman’s past callouts be dismissed by the Miami native.
And while he’s admitted that he still holds hope of exacting revenge on Masvidal for the backstage punches he ate in 2019, Edwards is enjoying being in the power position.
Edwards: Masvidal’s Pleas Are Satisfying
During an interview with Ariel Helwani for BT Sport, Edwards was asked whether it feels good to now be the one everyone is looking to fight having had his own advances stalled in the past, most notably with regards to his feud with Masvidal.
After agreeing that his newfound position is a nice change of pace, Edwards recalled Masvidal’s stance following his failed matchup with Tyron Woodley back in 2020.
“100% (I enjoy it). I remember when I was meant to fight Woodley and it got cancelled, and (Masvidal) was like, ‘I’m not worried about you now, you have to go to the back of the line.’ Now he’s like, begging,” Edwards said. “‘I’ll fight you in London.’ Mate, I called you out for like three years. You went running and went hiding. Now, it feels good to be the king. Now I’m on top.”
But although listening to the #9-ranked welterweight’s cries is like music to his ears, Edwards reiterated that they’re not easy to dismiss.
“Usman three is the frontrunner unless something dramatic happens… (But) I love the Masvidal one. I know he hasn’t earned it, but I would love for him to go out there and fight in October, against a Gilbert Burns or something; just get one good win,” Edwards stated. “Smoke Burns — if he does, I can’t see him beating Burns — but if he does, imagine the scenes. I truly believe that would be a bigger fight in the UK than Usman.”
While it appears unlikely that Usman will be denied an immediate chance at redemption, Masvidal is clearly not giving up his pursuit of a third opportunity to hold UFC gold. Unfortunately for him, he may have another contender to battle with following this weekend’s UFC 279 main event.
Should Leon Edwards’ send Jorge Masvidal to the back of the line?