Leon Edwards didn’t know he’d get caught in the middle of the recent drama trying to put together a UFC welterweight title fight, but he’s not going to pass up the opportunity to call for his shot at gold.
As negotiations broke down in an attempt to book reigning champion Kamaru Usman against Colby Covington for UFC 244 in New York, the promotion began looking at alternate possibilities.
Jorge Masvidal got a call and then Edwards’ management team received inquiry about his readiness to compete on Nov. 2 in New York.
“They phoned my management team and asked ‘what’s Leon doing, would he be ready for November?’ and I said I’d be ready whenever,” Edwards told MMA Fighting on Tuesday. “I’ve not heard nothing back since that phone call so I’m just hoping.
“I know Dana [White] came out and said they have big plans for me so hopefully it’s a title shot.”
Once the UFC couldn’t get Usman or Covington to commit to the title fight based on the offers made to each of the fighters, a new matchup was booked between Masvidal and Nate Diaz that will now headline the upcoming card at Madison Square Garden.
Edwards had been clamoring for a shot at Masvidal ever since they got into a physical altercation backstage at a UFC Fight Night card in London earlier this year. Unfortunately, every attempt Edwards made to goad Masvidal into a fight came up short as he stayed focused on other opponents instead.
“I couldn’t give a s—t to be fair,” Edwards said when addressing Masvidal. “I’ve asked for the fight many times. He’s turned down the fight many times. Not much more I can do. I told the UFC I want to fight the man, I told the world, I cannot force him into a fight. He doesn’t want the fight for whatever reason. I think he knows once I beat him, he’s done.
“I think he believes I’ll beat him. I know I’ll beat him and once I beat him, that’s his title shot out the window. He’s trying to do everything possible to milk his little two fight win streak as long as possible. I do not give a s—t. I’m focused on becoming world champion.”
Edwards scoffed at the Masvidal-Diaz fight receiving a unique title dubbed the ‘Bad Motherf—ker’ championship that will not be defended but rather handed to the winner as a reward for a victory at UFC 244.
“Two men who can’t get the title,” Edwards said with a laugh. “It’s a journeyman mentality. They can’t get the world title so you create some f—king weird s—t ass title. It’s a journeyman mentality.”
With Masvidal no longer an option and Covington in a dispute with the UFC over his pay for a welterweight title fight, Edwards is more than happy to slide into a championship opportunity against the last fighter to hand him a defeat.
In reality, Edwards already felt like his eight fight win streak was more than enough to justify a title shot but he was willing to wait on Covington so long as he got the chance to settle the score with Masvidal.
Now that both of them are out of the picture for the time being, Edwards is turning his attention back to Usman and the welterweight title.
“F—k Colby Covington. I don’t like Colby anyways. I don’t give a s—t about what he’s doing,” Edwards said. “My thing is to get a world title shot. Let’s me and Kamaru run it back. We’ve got the most wins in the division, we’re the two best in the division. Let’s run it back.”
Usman beat Edwards early in his UFC career and the British welterweight contender couldn’t think of a more fitting way to avenge that loss than with the title on the line.
“For me that would be perfect — him having the title and me taking it off him — that would be the fairytale story,” Edwards said. “To defeat the last man to defeat me for the title, I hope I get the chance to do that.
“My message [to Kamaru Usman] is let’s run it back. We fought years ago and let’s run it back so I can get the title off you.”
The UFC has made no decisions regarding what comes next for the welterweight title but Edwards is definitely stating his case to receive consideration once Usman is ready to fight again.
“I have paid my dues,” Edwards stated. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do. I flew across the world to fight [Rafael dos Anjos], I flew across the world to fight “Cowboy” [Donald Cerrone]. I’ve fought back to back.
“I’m on an eight-fight win streak, second only to the current champion. I have more than paid my price to get a world title shot.”