A busy week for the UFC began with the announcement of a Welterweight title defense and a highly-anticipated rematch, with Kamaru Usman facing old foe Colby Covington on November 6th.
In a week where Conor McGregor made headlines for his vile comments on social media, MMA fans can be happy with the organisation’s latest announcement. The last time Usman and Covington met, Covington was KO’d by the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ in round five of an incredible title fight, leaving Covington with a shattered jaw.
It was an instant classic and Usman has gone on to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, whereas Covington’s only returned to the cage once since, beating Tyron Woodley.
Although fans can be happy with the latest announcement, spare a thought for British UFC star Leon Edwards. Having joined the UFC roster back in 2014, Edwards has put together an impressive resume, with the sixth-fastest KO in UFC history, as well as beating the likes of Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos and most recently Nate Diaz.
However, the last two years in the UFC have been more than a challenge for him due to Covid complications, accidental eye pokes and even being removed from the welterweight rankings due to fight cancellations.
Out of the fighters who chose to fight during the pandemic, Edwards had the most turbulent time, with his fight against undefeated prospect Khamzat Chimaev being cancelled four times due to both fighters catching COVID, including Edwards’ rapidly losing 12 pounds in December 2020 after having the illness.
Eventually, the fight was scheduled with Belal Muhammad replacing Khamzat Chimaev, but it didn’t get past the second round, as the Englishman accidentally eye-poked Muhammad and he was unable to continue, destroying Edwards’ 8-fight win streak with a no contest.
Finally the Brit found some luck. Nate Diaz was in his crosshairs and they fought at UFC 263 in the first ever non-main event and no-title five round fight. Edwards dominated the first four rounds, moving sharply around the cage and unloading strikes quickly in half-spaces against an effervescent Diaz.
It was the fifth round that excited the crowd, and with good reason. Diaz caught Edwards with a huge hit with just 65 seconds left in the fight, and Edwards was seriously rocked and could’ve ended up losing the fight if he didn’t evade Diaz as well as he did. Alas, he was the victor that night, and even though the fans talked about the last minute of the fight, Edwards dominated an MMA legend and deserves to take the next step.
In the meantime, welterweight’s number two Gilbert Burns has been quick to offer Edwards a fight on the undercard of Usman vs Covington rematch, which would act as a title eliminator to see who would be the next challenger for Usman or Covington.