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Leon Edwards expects to win at UFC 263 and jump over Colby Covington into title fight against Kamaru Usman

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Leon Edwards has heard UFC president Dana White touting Colby Covington as the No. 1 contender in the welterweight division but he hopes to change all that on Saturday night.

With a five-round fight scheduled against Nate Diaz on the pay-per-view main card, Edwards knows he’s in the advantageous position to face one of the biggest names in the sport as he seeks to extend his unbeaten streak to 10 fights in a row.

Edwards knows better than most that nothing is guaranteed until contracts are signed and the cage door closes, which is why he’s not losing sleep over White’s comments that Covington is next in line for a shot at welterweight king Kamaru Usman.

“Dana’s known to change his mind thousands of times,” Edwards said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “He says what he says in the media but I know if I go out there and put on a performance of my life, put Nate away, that will slide me right into the title picture where I belong.

“I’m focused 100 percent on Nate Diaz. I got out there and do what I need to do in my half and then I will go to the UFC and see what plays out.”

When it comes to the state of the welterweight title picture, Edwards feels like he has a lot working in his favor as he approaches the upcoming showdown with Diaz.

Not only has he gone undefeated since 2016 but Edwards has put together one of the most impressive winning streaks in the division with only Usman ahead of him in terms of overall consecutive wins.

Add to that, Edwards is quick to point out that Covington not only had his jaw broken by Usman in their first meeting but he’s also only competed once since that time when he earned a stoppage over former champion Tyron Woodley in what was ultimately his third loss in a row.

Edwards expects his own resume will trump Covington once the fights are finished on Saturday night.

“I think once I go out there and put Nate away, that will put the UFC on notice that I’m the real No. 1 contender,” Edwards said. “I know Dana [White] came out the other day saying Colby [Covington] is getting a title shot but I don’t think he deserves it. I’m going out there to put on a master class against Diaz, put him away and clear my title shot. I can’t see how they justify giving Colby the title shot when I’ve been here working my ass off for the last four years, five years, since last being defeated by Kamaru Usman.

“I go out there and prove my case again, for the ninth time in a row. I will be world champion by the end of this year. I can feel it in my bones. The last year and a half was all for this moment. It’s all perfect the way it’s playing out. It’s working out as it’s meant to work out.”

While Covington obviously remains an option, Edwards also knows that Usman has shown little interest in running it back with the outspoken welterweight after silencing him in such dramatic fashion in their first meeting.

Usman has gone as far as hinting at Michael Chiesa as a potential title contender over Covington and he’s constantly touting Edwards as a fighter he expects to see again during his reign as champion.

“I’ve heard what he’s said. I don’t think there’s no bad blood apart from competition,” Edwards said about Usman. “He’s the last guy to have beaten me, he got the decision over me. I want to get that one back. I believe I could have done way better in the fight. I’ve shown over my last eight, nine fights. That’s all it is.

“I want to get my win back, be a world champion and he’s just the guy that’s got the belt. I’m going to have to defeat him to be a world champion.”

Of course, Edwards fully understands none of that happens if he doesn’t get through Diaz, which is why he’s somewhat hesitant to even broach the subject until his fight at UFC 263 is completed.

Still, he knows the magnitude of this fight and the event, which adds to Edwards’ confidence that the end result will be a win and a title shot later this year.

“This is one of the biggest fights in the division if not the biggest fight in the division,” Edwards said about facing Diaz. “It’s going to be a great fight. I’m going to put the performance of my life in. The crowd’s going to see, the world’s going to see and the UFC’s going to see that I belong in the No. 1 contender’s spot.”