Leon Edwards believes he’s done enough to earn a title shot, and he plans to wait for one if he doesn’t get another fight before the end of the year.
If the UFC again insists he earn another win to get a shot at the UFC welterweight title, Edwards is willing to face two-time title challenger Jorge Masvidal. But the fight will be on his timeline.
“I thought Masvidal was an option, but [his camp is] saying next year, and I’m not waiting until next year,” Edwards said Monday on The MMA Hour. “If I’m waiting until next year, I might as well be fighting for the world title.
“Why would I wait for a man I’ve called out for three years, turned me down for three years – now he’s coming off two back-to-back losses, got knocked out in his last fight, to say yeah, I’ll fight you next year, when I could wait for the title shot?”
Masvidal infamously handed Edwards a “three-piece and a soda” backstage – striking him after a verbal confrontation – at a March 2019 UFC event after they had competed in separate bouts on the card. A matchup appeared imminent, but Edwards said Masvidal turned down several subsequent offers by the UFC.
In recent interviews, Masvidal has said he will fight Edwards – or any opponent that will get him closer to another title shot against welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who in April knocked him out in a rematch. That request strikes Edwards as disingenuous, and besides, he doubts the “BMF” champion will follow through.
“I know he won’t take it,” Edwards said. “He talks all this sh*t on social media, and plays this tough guy on social media, but we all know he’s not going to take it. He’s coming off back-to-back losses, he’s trying to get another win to get his name back where he was. But I truly believe he won’t take it. He chose to fight Ben Askren over me. That proves enough he’s not willing to fight me.”
The bigger issue Edwards sees is his status with the UFC. Despite a nine-fight winning streak (a fight against Belal Muhammad was ruled a no-contest due to his accidental foul), he believes the promotion is withholding a title shot against Usman, who at UFC 268 will face Colby Covington in a rematch almost two years removed from his fifth-round TKO over the ex-interim champ.
“It’s been six years since my last loss,” Edwards said. “Colby got beat by the champion, fought Woodley, the fight ended by injury, sat out for over a year and got a title shot. But when I go on and get 10 fights in a row, now, ‘He needs one more.’ Every time, it’s one more. I think they’re trying to get me beat, but I cannot lose. I truly believe that I will be the next world champion. They’re trying to hold me back from it, but it’s coming. I truly believe it.”
Before accepting a fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 263, Edwards indicated was been told he’d earn a title shot with a win. When a last-second punch from Diaz nearly cost him one, he knew he’d given the promotion another reason to make him wait.
“As soon as I left the octagon, I said, to my coaches, ‘F*ck,’” he said. “I feel that they’re trying to use that as an excuse.”
Edwards said such a lapse “will never happen again.” He joked that “Dana White privilege” – a reference to a quip from ex-interim champ Tony Ferguson – would put him over the hump, but he could only guess at what would do the job.
“I thought it was a sport where if you go out and beat and compete and win, you get your shot,” he said. “But if that’s what I have to do to get my shot is to go take pictures and selfies and be pally-pally to everyone, then I don’t know.”
So far, Edwards remains in a familiar position of limbo as he awaits word from the UFC on his next fight. He said he hasn’t been offered a meeting with Masvidal at UFC 268 on Nov. 6, which would sync him up with the champ as a co-feature. A suggestion he doesn’t want to hear, though, is that he’s somehow afraid to take on any contender.
One standout welterweight, recent title challenger Gilbert Burns, has said as much as he’s campaigned to meet the U.K. standout. But Edwards is shutting that right down.
“There’s nothing there,” he said. “Gilbert does nothing for my career at this point. He just got knocked out and cried like a baby in the octagon. And then when and humped [Stephen] ‘Wonderboy’ [Thompson] for three rounds. Only way I compete now is Masvidal, because of the history we’ve got and the backstory.”