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Leon Edwards will return better than ever after ‘frustrating’ UFC hiatus, vows brother Fabian

While the UFC moves ahead with its fight schedule and contenders vie for position in each weight class, one man has found himself on the outside, looking in.

Welterweight contender Leon Edwards is riding an eight-fight win streak at 170 pounds and hasn’t lost a fight since his decision defeat to current champion Kamaru Usman back in December 2015.

Edwards’ form has him right in the mix at the sharp end of the UFC’s 170-pound division, but while his top contender colleagues have been getting fights, the Brit has been stuck on the sidelines, with travel restrictions due to COVID-19 forcing him out of a fight with Tyron Woodley in March. Since then, while his rivals have returned to action, he hasn’t been able to get a fight booked.

It’s been a tough time for Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC), as his brother, Bellator middleweight Fabian Edwards, explained to MMA Junkie the frustrating nature of the last few months.

“You can’t even put it into words, to be honest,” he said. “It’s very tough at the moment, but me and the rest of the coaches are stressing to him you have to use this time to level up and come back a better fighter and a stronger fighter.”

Leon’s eight-fight winning streak includes victories over the likes of Vicente Luque, Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson and, most recently, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Given his lengthy streak, plus a ready-made rematch narrative with the current champion, hopes were high that Edwards might be able to challenge for the welterweight title in 2020. But the arrival of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic pumped the brakes on those hopes, and now Edwards is just looking at getting back into the cage against a notable opponent.

“He’s been training, but it’s gotten to the point where I think he’ll either take a big name for the sake of taking a big name, or a top opponent,” said Fabian.

“You have to stay positive, because there’s nothing you can actually do. When it’s been taken out of your control you can’t actually do anything. You just have to just adapt, and that’s what he’s doing. He’s adapting and he’s working hard. It’s just a frustrating situation.”

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