Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Leon Edwards is looking for a fight.
The top-five ranked welterweight contender has anxiously awaited a UFC booking ever since his main event showdown against former champion Tyron Woodley fell apart due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the weeks and months following the cancellation of UFC London, Edwards hoped to get booked against an opponent that would finally earn him a title shot after eight straight wins.
According to Edwards, the UFC proposed a fight with Jorge Masvidal, who was fresh off a loss to reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in July.
The bad blood between Edwards and Masvidal has been well documented after the fighters got into a physical altercation backstage at a UFC event in England in 2019. Ever since, Edwards has called for a showdown, but he said the first time the UFC actually offered the matchup, the ‘BMF’ champion turned him down.
“I want the fight,” Edwards told MMA Fighting about the proposed fight with Masvidal. “The UFC wanted the fight. They offered it to him and he turned it down. He said he’d rather fight Nate Diaz. I don’t understand it. He claims he wants to get back to the title shot and fight for a world championship. I don’t understand what fighting a person like Nate Diaz will get you? I don’t know.
“I don’t know where his head’s at. I don’t know what the f**k he’s doing but I’m here, I’m ready. I’m willing to go.”
If Masvidal isn’t interested, Edwards would also be more than happy to face off with former interim champion Colby Covington, who’s coming off a lopsided win over Woodley in his most recent outing.
After his fight with Woodley ended, Covington made more than a few controversial statements, calling the former welterweight champion a “terrorist” for aligning himself with the Black Lives Matter movement. After receiving a call from President Donald Trump after his win, Covington also took aim at Usman. In the midst of a heated back-and-forth, he told the champ, who originally hails from Nigeria, “who did you get a call from? Did you get a call from, freaking, your little tribe? Did they give you some smoke signals for you?”
Edwards blasted Covington for his comments toward Woodley and Usman.
“Your tribe and smoke signals and blah, blah, blah, and he’s calling Woodley a terrorist because of Black Lives Matter,” Edwards said. “All these statements he’s making is racist. There’s no other way to go around it.
“I understand he’s creating a character, but race that’s not a character. That’s just hate and he’s spreading hate. I never liked the guy and after that, I 100 percent don’t like the guy.”
Putting his personal feelings aside, Edwards still can’t say he was all that impressed by Covington’s performance against Woodley, who’s now lost three fights in a row including past defeats to Usman and Gilbert Burns.
“It was all right, but Woodley is a shadow of himself, so it’s hard to judge Colby’s performance,” Edwards said. “I don’t know what’s going on with [Woodley]. His last three performances have been terrible. It was a good performance. He did what he needed to do to win.
“Like I said, Woodley is a shadow of himself of the old Woodley, so it’s hard to judge him but it is what it is.”
If he’s granted the opportunity to face Covington with a title shot on the line, Edwards promises to give him a much different fight. In fact, he believes Covington’s greatest weapon isn’t a particular skill set based on striking or grappling.
“Every fight he does the same thing,” Edwards said about Covington. “He falls into his shots. If he didn’t have cardio he’d be a sh*t fighter. If he didn’t have his pace because everything he does is pretty standard, pretty straight forward with what he does and when he competes.
“That would be a great matchup for me as well. Anyone in the top five, I believe I’ll be victorious. I’ll f**k him up. I’m ready to go. It’s up to him and the UFC.”
More than anything, Edwards just wants a fight that will put him in title contention, and after eight wins in a row, it’s awfully hard to argue against it.
“Logically, it has to be title shot No. 1, Colby or Masvidal,” Edwards said. “I think those are the fights that make sense. I’ve done all the other fights. I’m on an eight-fight win streak now. I’ve done all the RDA’s [Rafael dos Anjos] and ‘Cowboy’s [Donald Cerrone]. I truly believe now I deserve a big name.
“I deserve a No. 1 contender shot if not the title shot right now. Those are the only fights to me that make sense for one of these guys stepping up and fighting. Anyone out of that order wouldn’t do nothing for my career or propel me forward.”