It appears Leon Edwards’ long-awaited title shot won’t have to wait much longer.
According to Edwards’ manager, Tim Simpson of Paradigm Sports, the UFC has made it clear the U.K. standout is next in line for Kamaru Usman. The only delay in booking the fight centers around the timeline for the reigning welterweight champion’s return to action after a recent hand surgery.
“I’ve been told that’s the plan pending on Kamaru’s hand, but yeah, I believe so [this summer],” Simpson told The MMA Hour. “I don’t know the details on his hand. I saw the photo of the surgery, but I think so [that fight will happen].
“I can’t see anything disrupting that unless Kamaru’s out a year or something and they’ve got to figure something out.”
Edwards has clamored for an opportunity to fight for UFC gold, going unbeaten in his past 10 fights, including a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz in his most recent outing at UFC 263 this past June.
Such a dominant run through the welterweight division has rarely been accomplished, but Edwards has also been haunted by delays and fight cancellations due to the global pandemic. Additionally, he had his own bout with COVID-19 that scrapped another matchup against highly-touted prospect Khamzat Chimaev. He was expected to face Chimaev on three separate occasions, but the undefeated Chechen’s own battle with COVID-19 cancelled two of the scheduled bookings.
As frustrating as it’s been for Edwards, his manager believes sunnier days are ahead.
“I don’t need to go over again what that guy’s been through at this stage,” Simpson said. “He’s patient and he deserves it. Even when Dana [White] comes out and says that he deserves it. He’s been through this, it’s out of his control.”
If there’s one concern surrounding Edwards’ title shot, it’s that Chimaev could potentially jump the line if he’s able to secure an impressive win over one-time title challenger Gilbert Burns, who he’s expected to face at UFC 273.
Anything is possible, but Simpson trusts in the assurances that the UFC has given him regarding Edwards’ next fight.
“I don’t think that would happen,” the manager said. “He signed three bout agreements to fight Khamzat when allegedly no one else would. I believe the UFC will do right by him, and those are the conversations I’ve had behind the scenes also. I’m confident that happens.”