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Leon Edwards: Kamaru Usman already ‘on his way out,’ he can go chase ‘fashion dreams’ after UFC 286

Leon Edwards can’t say for certain if his knockout completely altered Kamaru Usman’s way of thinking but he believes the former champion is boasting a lot of false bravado ahead of their trilogy at UFC 286.

In the days leading up to the main event in London, Usman has said that Edwards “has shown me nothing” to prove he’s a better fighter despite “Rocky” finishing him with a devastating head kick in the fifth round in their previous encounter this past August. In response, Edwards believes that Usman has to say things like that because he was talking like he was almost untouchable ahead of their rematch before he got flattened by knockout.

“I think if you get knocked out like that, he has to find something to clutch onto, right?” Edwards said during UFC 286 media day. “He needs to build his confidence back up because going into it he thought he could never be taken down, he could never be hurt or knocked out. So I think you have to find something to clutch onto.

“He was winning the fight but who cares? It goes down as you out cold, head shot and that’s all that matters. When it’s all said and done, winners win and even on my worst day, my worst performance, I still knock you out.”

No matter what Usman has been saying since their previous fight ended, Edwards knows a dramatic loss like that can have long term effects, especially when it comes to confidence.

Prior to that setback, Usman was undefeated in the UFC with a record breaking run at welterweight and now he’s trying to win back the title as a contender for the first time in his career.

“He’s 36 years old, been in many tough fights,” Edwards said. “He thought he could never be beaten and then to be sparked like that, that does have a mental thing on you. I know he pretends like he doesn’t care and he was happy he got knocked out because of the pressures as champion is too hard and ‘I’m happy I got knocked out’ but for me that doesn’t make no sense.

“So we’ll see on Saturday night whether or not it makes a difference but you best believe I’ll be trying to knock him out again.”

Of course, Usman had every reason to feel confident before facing Edwards the second time considering he already held a win over the British welterweight and he was riding high as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.

That fight also came after Usman had filmed a role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and he was talking about pursuing a boxing match against Canelo Alvarez. Usman even showed up to the pre-fight press conference dressed with plenty of swagger as he planned to continue his reign over the UFC welterweight division.

Edwards could only laugh — and nearly choke on his water — when asked if he believes Usman will display that same attitude and maybe even dress like actor Terry Crews again when they come face-to-face ahead of UFC 286.

“It’s a bit too cold over here to be dressing all weird and all funky,” Edwards said. “But it is what it is. I heard he flew a stylist over and that’s what I’m saying, our mentalities are just in two different places.

“I feel like he’s on his way out and I’m just going to open that door for him and give him another path to follow his fashion dreams and follow wherever he wants to go.”

While Usman has undoubtedly put together an all-time great resume, a second straight loss to Edwards would almost certainly put him near the back of the pack for title contenders at 170 pounds.

That’s why there’s speculation that perhaps Usman might even consider retirement if he can’t get his belt back on Saturday.

None of that concerns Edwards too much, although he can’t deny that Usman could be contemplating that move as an alternative to just climbing up the ladder again after back-to-back losses.

“Who knows. I’ve just been saying from his mentality and the way he’s moving, I think he’s already got one foot out the door already,” Edwards said. “Whether he retires after or not, that’s up to him.”

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