Following his victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 263, Leon Edwards seems to be on the cusp of a Welterweight Championship match.
Excluding his No Contest against Belal Muhammad at UFC Fight Night: Edwards V.s Muhammad, Leon Edwards is on a nine fight winning streak with his last loss coming over five years ago against the division’s current champion, Kamaru Usman. Edwards has impressive wins during that streak as well including three title holders or challengers in the aforementioned Nate Diaz, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and Rafael dos Anjos. With his activity levels back up to a regular pace now that it seems that we have put the COVID-19 pandemic somewhat behind us, there are two likely options for “Rocky.”
The more obvious choice here would be to pair him with current Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. Edwards believes he is up next for a title shot having never received one in his career to this point. Having such an impressive resume, being on such an incredible run, and looking to avenge his most recent defeat, it does make sense to have him face Usman. Usman has all but cleared out the top of the Welterweight division on his way to becoming one of, if not the, most impressive fighters in the entire UFC. The main problem with Edwards facing Usman, is that he would likely have to take an extended break to wait for his turn.
UFC President Dana White has already said that Usman’s next challenger will be the rematch with Colby Covington. That fight has not yet had a date announced, although we could speculate that it would be in the August-October range. This would put Rocky on the sidelines for possibly the rest of the year depending on what happens in that Usman-Covington fight. If Covington wins, the UFC will book the trilogy between the two which sets Edwards back further. If Usman wins but sustains an injury, that could be even longer of a wait than if Covington wins and they book a rematch. Edwards best case scenario would be an Usman win, and a championship fight by December at the earliest. Because of this extended absence, this leaves Edwards with an interesting opportunity.
Following Masvidal’s highlight win over Darren Till in March of 2019, the same night Edwards defeated Gunnar Nelson, the two had a backstage confrontation that launched Masvidal into superstardom. The infamous “three-piece and a soda” incident, which saw Masvidal and Edwards exchange blows after their respective fights, led to Masvidal becoming a fan favorite. Then came the highlight reel knockout of Ben Askren, then the BMF belt, two back-to-back shots at the Welterweight Championship, and the rest is history. Edwards has not forgotten about this moment in time and now may be the time to settle the score.
With Masvidal’s medical suspension due to be up this time next week, June 24th, and Edwards having just fought, maybe these two could square off in a few months time. These two could even follow a trend the UFC has been using lately, especially at the tops of their divisions in which one division specifically will be highlighted on a given card or pay-per-view. Edwards V.s Masvidal could be the co-main event for a card headlined by the rematch between Usman and Covington. If that was announced tomorrow, it would set the stage for the UFC’s Welterweight division for the next nine months.
Who do you think Leon Edwards should face next?
Photo: via Esther Lin/MMA Fighting