English welterweight contender Leon Edwards has been fighting for recognition in the UFC’s welterweight division for a few years now. But finally, his title shot appears to have arrived.
Nothing has been officially confirmed, though UFC president Dana White gave his strongest hint yet that Edwards would be next for all-conquering undisputed welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, with a tentative date of July 2 at UFC 276, the showpiece event of UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas.
It’s the news that Edwards has been chasing for year and, during a chat with MMA Junkie in London this week, his excitement at finally earning his long-awaited championship opportunity was palpable.
“I’m just embracing the journey,” Edwards told MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn.
“It’s been a mad rollercoaster since the last time happened in London and there’s been a lot of ups and downs. But now it looks like the light is coming near to the end of the tunnel, you know?
“The title shot is in sight, so I’m looking forward to the next step of my career and becoming a world champion and just moving on and putting this behind me and carrying on.”
A title fight between Edwards and Usman would see the pair face off in a rematch of their 2015 clash where, as two up-and-coming welterweight prospects, Usman prevailed with a unanimous decision victory at UFC on FOX 17 in Orlando, Florida.
But both men have evolved significantly as fighters since that bout, and Edwards revealed that, with the bout already agreed, the only remaining formality is to sign a contract to lock in the matchup and the fight date.
“All the parties have agreed, you know, I mean, so now it’s just all about just getting a contract delivered to the table,” he said.
“I’m ready, Usman’s ready, the UFC is ready. So now it’s just about waiting for the contract to come through, signing it and going from there.”
Edwards also likes the prospect of facing Usman during UFC International Fight Week. The week-long celebration of MMA in Las Vegas features a host of fan-engagement events, culminating in a UFC pay-per-view show that often features multiple title fights.
For Edwards, there couldn’t be a better stage for his title opportunity.
“It makes sense, right? International Fight Week, two international fighters, so it should be a great, great event,” he said.
“I’m excited to go out there and compete, and bring the belt back to the UK and raise it for the UK fans and also for the Jamaican fans as well.”