Saturday, October 1, 2022

Leon Edwards says UFC 278 is the ‘perfect time’ to face Kamaru Usman: ‘His body is breaking down’

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Leon Edwards feels in prime form ahead of UFC 278, but he is not quite sure Kamaru Usman can say the same. Usman vs. Edwards 2 is a rematch six years in the making and reaches its conclusion on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Edwards saw his career stall out a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scheduled to headline in London in March 2020, Edwards’ clash with Tyron Woodley was canceled as the world went into lock down. He was then unable to leave England when the UFC started to ramp back up and suffered through his own bout with the viral illness as he eventually had a bout scheduled to face rising star Khamzat Chimaev. 

And once he was able to return to the Octagon, in a headlining bout opposite Belal Muhammad, the fight ended just as it was beginning due to an illegal eye poke. 

But even amid all that tumult, Edwards believes it is Usman who could have more issues coming into their rematch.

“All I’ve been doing is training,” Edwards told CBS Sports. “The Khamzat Chimaev fight, for example, that’s three camps. I’ve done many camps and improved leaps and bounds. Now is the perfect time to fight. I think those years looking back on it now were blessings in disguise. It gave me time to hone my skills and polish what I needed to polish. [Usman’s] competed but he’s also been in wars. His body is breaking down and I think now is the perfect time.

“But I’m not going in there thinking that. I’m going in prepared for the so-called pound-for-pound best.”

Usman has been out of action since outlasting Colby Covington in a five-round fight in November 2021. The welterweight champion underwent hand surgery for a tendon issue that required additional time to heal. In 2019, Usman told Brendan Schaub that he had avoided running for three years due to recurring knee issues.

Edwards and Usman fought for the first time in an early prelims bout on Dec. 19, 2015. Usman was awarded a unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) victory. Neither fighter has lost since that first meeting.

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