Longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender, Leon Edwards, is visibly frustrated with the current state of the 170-pound division and to be honest, I don’t blame him.
“Rocky” boasts an impressive 17-3 record — 9-2 inside the Octagon — and is the winner of seven straight. In addition, the 27 year-old Brit, who’s captured wins over the likes of Donald Cerrone and Gunnar Nelson, just to name a few, has never been finished in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
And yet he’s not even ranked in the Top 10 of the division.
Anthony Pettis hasn’t won back-to-back fights in nearly six years and has just one win at 170 pounds and he managed to land at No. 7. Similarly, Stephen Thompson has just one victory over his last five fights and holds steady at No. 6.
Rankings are subjective and dumb, I get it, but that list should give you a pretty good idea of what the voting panel thinks of Edwards. He needs to shoulder some of the blame, of course, scoring just two finishes during his current win streak, but UFC hasn’t done him any favors, either.
It often feels like the promotion only worries about British fighters when it’s promoting a card overseas, or when it gets lucky enough to land a charismatic star like Darren Till. Edwards is no Till, and that’s okay, but if the fans don’t care about you, nobody else will either.
His fast food drive-thru order, taken and delivered by Jorge Masvidal, was the most press he’s had since joining UFC back in 2014, but the subsequent headlines did him no favors. Neither did matchmakers, who denied his “GameBred” feud in favor of something anticlimactic.
“Rocky” will headline his first stateside event when he battles No. 4-ranked Rafael dos Anjos in the UFC on ESPN 4 main event, scheduled for this Sat. night (July 20, 2019) inside AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
“This is a fight to prove my case, that I’m one of the best fighters in the world,” Edwards told MMA Junkie. “He’s a former world champion – ranked third in the world – and to go out there and put on the performance that I’m thinking of putting on, I’ll deserve a title shot or at least a No. 1 contender (fight).”
Edwards won’t get either unless he wins and wins big. Another close decision or otherwise forgettable performance will keep him stuck in welterweight purgatory. Even a finish may not be enough, which is why “Rocky” should snatch the post-fight mic and cut one of these types of promos.
The rules are different for each fighter and UFC books fights it thinks it can sell. If Edwards wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Masvidal and Colby Covington when it comes to welterweight title shots, then it’s put up or shut up this weekend in “The Lone Star State.”
To see the rest of the UFC San Antonio fight card and line up click here.