UFC 278: Kamaru Usman v Leon Edwards – Briton will humble ‘arrogant’ Nigerian champion


Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards
Usman is unbeaten in the UFC, while Edwards has not lost in seven years

Leon Edwards says he will “humble” welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in their rematch at UFC 278 because “the fame has gone to his head”.

The 30-year-old Briton meets Usman for the title in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, seven years after being beaten by the Nigerian.

Since that bout, Usman, 35, has become champion and is ranked as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

“I can see straight through him,” said Edwards, who is unbeaten since 2015.

“He’s being himself and has done great things, but I do feel he’s losing himself a little bit.

“It’s not personal for me, I believe I’m number one but it’s [fame] clearly getting to his head. I’m going to humble you Saturday night.”

Usman is on a 19-fight winning streak and has defended his title five times since beating Tyron Woodley in 2019.

His last bout was a decision victory over Colby Covington in November.

Such is his dominance of the division, Usman has suggested moving up two divisions to light-heavyweightexternal-link for a new challenge, as well as calling for a boxing matchexternal-link with Mexico’s multiple world champion Canelo Alvarez.

It has recently been confirmedexternal-link Usman will star in the upcoming Marvel movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Edwards, who has the opportunity to become the first British UFC champion since Michael Bisping in 2016, says he respects Usman’s achievements but sees arrogance in him.

“He’s another black man doing good stuff, I know we’re going to fight but I’m not a hater,” he said.

“But every press conference he’s dressed in the ‘how to be arrogant’ style pack,”

“I’ve seen it time and time before. The fame has got to him.”

‘I’ve grown leaps and bounds since the last fight’

Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards in 2015
Usman beat Edwards via unanimous decision in 2015

In facing Usman, Edwards becomes Britain’s first UFC title challenger since Darren Till suffered defeat by Tyron Woodley in 2018.

Since defeat to Usman in 2015, Edwards has remained unbeaten in the UFC, winning nine of his 10 fights with the other ending as a no-contest.

His last fight was a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz last June.

Usman out-wrestled Edwards in the first fight, but has since shown developments in his striking with impressive knockout victories over Jorge Masvidal, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington.

Edwards expects Usman to keep the fight on the feet – a department he feels he excels in.

“If I was him I’d come out and try and wrestle, but I think he’ll try and strike. He’s fallen in love with it and that’s natural, but I’m leaps ahead of him when it comes to striking,” he said.

“Skillset-wise he has improved, he’s shown in his fights he’s comfortable on his feet. But we’re both two different fighters to what we were seven years ago.

“I’ve grown leaps and bounds and Saturday night I’ll show that.”

Despite having the second-longest winning streak at nine in the UFC welterweight division behind Kamaru Usman, Edwards hasn’t received the recognition which some of his more outspoken peers have.

Both Masvidal and Covington have fought and lost for the title against Usman twice each in the past three years.

Edwards says the extra recognition that comes with being a UFC champion is not important to him.

“I’m going in with the mindset of being a champion, it’s been a long road for me to get here,” he said.

“My aim is to go out there, provide for my family and I truly believe I’m number one. We’ll see Saturday night.”

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