So why, after a litany of missed opportunities and failed matchups, are the two welterweight finally slated to settle their differences on Dec. 11 at UFC 269?
In Masvidal’s eyes, the reason is simple: It’s because he finally said ‘jump’ and Edwards answered, ‘How high?’
“I know that he’s getting his biggest paycheck ever, and it’s because of me,” Masvidal said Monday on The MMA Hour. “And the whole time, from the start of him calling me out, I’ve always said I’m going to fight this guy — but when I say. The whole time he was saying that he wasn’t going to fight me, then I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to fight you right now.’ And guess what? Who’s fighting me right now?
“So as this interview goes down and the words spread and people copy and paste this — he does what I say, when I say. So we’re fighting again when I say.”
Masvidal’s road has been an eventful one since his initial run-in with Edwards. The 36-year-old veteran rose to stardom in the aftermath of UFC London with high-profile wins over Ben Askren and Nate Diaz, then parlayed his momentum into back-to-back title shots against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. After losing both outings to Usman — the latter via brutal one-punch knockout at UFC 261 — Masvidal said he asked the UFC to give him a matchup for his comeback fight that “gets me closer to fighting for the belt again and the most money,” and that’s when the promotion offered him Edwards.
The beef between Edwards and Masvidal, of course, remains as fiery as ever. The two have traded constant barbs in the media since UFC London, and Edwards admitted recently on The MMA Hour that their long-awaited showdown will be “more than personal” for the Birmingham native.
But after seeing how Edwards handled their first dust-up in 2019, Masvidal can’t help but laugh at the narrative Edwards is trying to paint for himself ahead of UFC 269.
“Where I come from and how I grew up, that guy wouldn’t have lived one day in there,” Masvidal said. “In the actual heat of the moment, he never would’ve survived. He would’ve just stayed home the whole time, waiting for his parents to get WiFi or something for him to develop social skills, because this guy’s a coward. What he did to me in England showed me everything I ever needed to know about this guy.
“When you’re talking all this crap and then somebody gets in your face, and you’re hesitant about it? Like, you know exactly what’s going to happen if you come from these places. You see I’m walking toward you and you’re walking toward me, and you’re going to say I assaulted you? That’s coward sh*t. He was saying assault and he originally wanted to call the cops on me, but what would’ve happened? That wouldn’t have looked good for his brand and ‘I’m such a tough guy,’ the thing that he’s trying to proclaim. So that’s when he didn’t want to call the cops.
“But originally they wanted to press charges on me, when you started this f*cking altercation,” Masvidal continued. “I’m here doing my own interview, doing my thing, I just got Fight of the Night, I just got Knockout of the Night, and I don’t give a f*ck about you, Edwards — why are you ruining my interview? This is my time to shine — you’re trying to steal that, you’re trying to talk sh*t. Nobody gives a f*ck about you in your own hometown. You just had a fight that night, nobody was even talking about his fight because it was so boring. And he’s just a clout chaser. That’s always what he’s been.
“I got into this sport because I actually love the sport, I love to fight, I love to compete. This guy got into the sport because, I don’t know, maybe he thought he could score a first date or something with some chick. It’s all going to show on December 11th.”
Masvidal took particular umbrage with Edwards’ recent claim on The MMA Hour that the American had to be hid “somewhere in London” back in 2019 and flown out in the early morning hours after their backstage altercation because otherwise Masvidal “would have been hurt badly” — assumedly as retribution for the incident — and that UFC officials knew they needed to get Masvidal out of the country as quickly as possible.
Masvidal said Monday that he actually stayed in the U.K. for an extra two days following UFC London because he didn’t have his passport and needed to work with the U.S. embassy in England to secure the proper paperwork to leave the country.
“I have that paperwork that I’ll be putting up online just to remind this guy, ‘You’re a f*cking idiot, bro,’” Masvidal said. “Who do you think you are? James Bond? I’m going to f*cking strike you in the face and now I have to leave England? Who the f*ck are [you]? Bro, I punched you in front of all your f*cking co-workers and best friends and it was just me by my f*cking self. He was around like five or six people. What happened to me? Absolutely nothing. Now all of a sudden I was going to get f*cking kidnapped, killed, and all this sh*t? They don’t even have guns in England. Get the f*ck out of my face.”
In the end, Masvidal made it clear that he considers UFC 269 to be nothing more than a business trip. He said he doesn’t consider the matchup to be personal in the slightest.
But that being said, he also doesn’t expect Edwards to actually try to live up to the many words and threats the Englishman has been promising over the past two years.
“I’m going to try to do everything in my being to end this person,” Masvidal said. “Leon’s going to do everything in himself to do what he’s always done — put his track shoes on and turn it into a track meet and run, and run for dear life. So I don’t care how much of a grudge match it is or what he says, because the guy’s a coward. He’s going to throw punches and run and get on his bike and run and run. I’ll cut the ring off eventually and I’ll land the blows that I need to land on him, slow him down, and I’m going to take him out. But don’t expect a lot out of him as far as the actual fight. He’s going to hit-and-run, I’m telling you.”