Fabian Edwards is riding the crest of a wave heading into Bellator 287, and the English middleweight contender plans on delivering another statement-making performance in the co-main event on Saturday night.
Edwards will take on in-form Irish contender Charlie Ward in Milan, Italy in a bout that promises fireworks on the feet, and said that, following his highlight-reel finish of Lyoto Machida in his last outing, he’s ready to show that he’s levelled up again.
“It meant a lot to get a win over a legend,” he said during media day.
“I definitely think you are (going to see the best version of me). I learned from (my losses), and I proved I came out stronger. Saturday, you’ll definitely see the best version of myself. Stronger, and more mature.”
Edwards will face Ward, a teak-tough Irishman who is riding a three-fight win streak, with victories over Kyle Kurtz, Andy Manzolo and Alan Carlos. Ward will see victory over Edwards as a springboard towards a top contender fight of his own, and the Dubliner’s heavy hands are something “The Assassin” is well aware of.
“He’s on a win streak, right? It’s the same again. People are going to say what they’re going to say, but Charlie’s on a win streak; I’m going to go out there and snap that win streak. I’m in this for a world title.
“Charlie’s dangerous; he’s put a few people out, so I can’t take him lightly. But that said, I just feel like I’m a level above him. I was happy with the plan given out to me, so now, I just need to go out there and execute that plan.”
Following his eye-catching knockout of Machida last time out, Edwards is not shy of revealing his aim to go for the finish on Saturday night, but he also said he wouldn’t place too much emphasis on the knockout. Instead, he said controlled pressure and a level-headed approach are keys to his success at the Allianz Cloud Arena.
“It’s important, but like my coach said, don’t look for it,” he explained.
“I’m not going to finish everyone in the division, so I don’t need to force it. I need to be a smart fighter, not go out there and force it.
“I think there’s more aggression but smart aggression. I’m going to go in there and not force anything and pick my shots.”
Edwards also heads into the bout with renewed energy after seeing his brother Leon capture the UFC welterweight title with a stunning fifth-round knockout of pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman at UFC 278.
“It felt amazing,” he said.
“You can’t really put it into words. It confirmed to me and everyone else that we’re doing something right. That confirmed to me to believe in the team, to keep grinding, and to trust the process.
“The energy (in the gym) is crazy. Everyone’s just trying to build on it and end the year with some more wins for me and the team.”
And, of course, Edwards hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps and capture championship gold of his own by claiming the Bellator middleweight title.
He thinks that the journey to a title fight with current champ Johnny Eblen could see him eventually face MMA legend and former long-reigning champion Gegard Mousasi – possibly even in his next fight, if he gets past Ward this weekend.
“It would be crazy (to join his brother as a champion) because it would make history. You can’t rewrite history. Like I said, my brother’s gotten the job done. It’s up to me now to get the job done.”
“It’s massive to me. There’s a lot of guys on the card that have been doing this longer than me, so for me to come in and make a splash, I love the support.
“I like the Mousasi matchup. I think that’s a fight the fans would love. I would like to entertain that, but we will see after Saturday.”