When Leon Edwards steps into the octagon at UFC 278 on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, Utah, he’ll look to put the capstone on a long and winding road that led him from defeat to Kamaru Usman to a shot at victory over the same man, with UFC championship gold on the line.
Edwards was defeated by Usman via unanimous decision back at UFC on FOX in December 2015 in Orlando, Florida. At the time, Edwards and Usman were considered young stud prospects in the UFC’s 170-pound division. At the time, it was Usman’s dominant wrestling game that prevailed over Edwards’ striking style.
Fast forward to present day, and Usman stands atop the the welterweight division as its undisputed champion, with “The Nigerian Nightmare” also topping the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings. Edwards, meanwhile, has evolved hugely and is now one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC’s 170-pound stable. A 10-fight unbeaten streak has propelled “Rocky” to the top contender spot, and a shot at old adversary Usman, whose own game has also developed significantly.
It’s a rematch seven years in the making, with the stakes at their highest, as Edwards looks to become only the second British fighter to capture UFC gold against the man many consider the best mixed martial artist on the planet.
Ahead of Edwards’ title clash, take a look back at his route from the early days of his UFC career to present day in BT Sport’s documentary, “Rocky’s Road to Redemption.”