Leon Edwards officially has his first title defense on the books for UFC 286 in London.
The reigning UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards will be hosting former champion Kamaru Usman for a trilogy fight later this year in London. There was some uncertainty regarding this matchup for a while but now the bout is official. These two men have fought twice before, most recently at UFC 278, when Edwards knocked Usman out in the last minute of the fifth and final round. Edwards has known for a while that his first defense would be against Usman, but there were some details that needed to be ironed out.
In the last five months since UFC 278, Usman had been rehabbing a hand injury. That delayed the booking until March, also the plan was to hold the event in Edward’s neck of the woods, the UK. Finding a spot for the event proved to be difficult as well, but now the location is set in the O2 Arena in London.
Leon Edwards feels that the fight being in London favors him considerably.
Edwards is feeling confident coming off the KO victory over Usman. He explained on The MMA Hour that he has never lost in the UK and does not plan on starting now. He was asked if he feels the KO will have an effect on Usman, to which he replied.
“As far as the knockout goes, let’s see how he reacts,” he said. “I’m not really banking on him being gun-shy, I’m preparing for the best Usman there is. I’ve seen it time and time again, that knockout does change a fighter, I’ve seen it boxing, I’ve seen it in mixed martial arts so let’s see how he reacts when I’m sinking the shots toward his head.”
The last time these two fought was in Salt Lake City, Utah. That city is known for its high elevation which can have a huge effect on the physical performance of athletes. This time Edwards will have the hometown advantage and feels that Usman will be in a tough situation.
“You come to my hometown and it’s going to be totally different atmosphere than what you think,” he said. “This is his first time actually coming to someone’s backyard. I know he did Fight Island before with Masvidal but that’s like a mutual ground, he’s never been to noone’s backyard. I’ve fought my whole career in other people’s backyards so I am used to it. Let’s see how he reacts, like I said it’s going to be a hard task for him. I know he’s good, I’m not diluted, I know he’s a good fighter but I truly believed that I am better. I’m taking the confidence from knowing I can take him down, knowing that when it hits the mats I’m on top and I’m better, knowing I can knock him out.”
Usman held the UFC welterweight title for three years before losing to Edwards. Edwards has not lost a fight in 11 bouts. These two men are the very best at 170 pounds and now they will be putting it all on the line to prove who is the greatest in the division.