In what many are calling the greatest head kick knockout in promotional history, ‘Rocky’ finished ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ with less than a minute to go in the fifth and final round to capture UFC gold. Things appeared to be going Leon Edwards’ way in the opening round. The 19 minutes that followed were less than stellar with ‘Rocky’ unable to deliver any type of offense and looking noticeably dejected between rounds.
However, Edwards’ coach Dave Lovell refused to let his fighter give up. In between rounds, Lovell could be heard motivating his fighter to keep fighting. It was reminiscent of Mickey Goldmill, the coach of Rocky Balboa in the popular boxing film franchise. The clips of Lovell tearing into his fighter quickly went viral following his fighter’s fifth-round finish. Appearing on The Jim Rome Show, Leon Edwards spoke about the fight and the moments of inspiration his coach provided.
“I’ve known Dave since I was age 17. We’ve been together for a long time. I think he knows just how good I am in the gym, so when he sees me in a fight and I’m not performing as I should be performing, he’s just trying to wake me up. ‘Don’t blow this moment, this is your moment. This is what you worked hard for, don’t let it go to waste.’ He knows how to get under my skin and [he] definitely did.”
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Following the first round, ‘Rocky’ admitted that he felt the fight slipping away. His body began to shut down, likely due to the high altitude of fighting in Utah.
“I went out there and won the first round and from there, my body just kind of shut down. Like I said, the altitude affected me. Going to Utah, you know. From there, I felt like it was slowly slipping away. I needed to go out there and up the pace or get the finish. That’s what I did in the fifth round.
“I didn’t perform as well as I should have performed. Like I said, I took the best of what the ex-champ had to offer so if we need to do number three, It’s going to be a totally different fight I’m looking forward to it.”
Speaking about a potential trilogy bout with Usman, Leon Edwards believes the former champion is deserving of a rematch and hopes they can make it happen in the UK.
“I feel Usman is deserving of the trilogy. I’d love to have it back in the UK. In Wembley would be good. In the O2 would be good in London. I’d love to give him the rematch and run it back again and let’s settle the score.”
Discussing other potential opponents, Leon Edwards was asked about potentially facing division rival Jorge Masvidal. In 2019, the two fighters got into a scuffle backstage that led to ‘Gamebred’ delivering his now famous “three-piece and a soda.” The two were scheduled to settle their difference at UFC 269, but Masvidal was forced to withdraw due to an injury. When asked if he would like to fight Masvidal as the UFC welterweight champion, ‘Rocky’ said it was near the top of his list.
“Yeah, 100 percent. That’s the top of my list. At the moment, Jorge is on a two or three-fight losing streak. He needs to go out there and get some wins, make the fight make sense. That’s a fight that I think would be massive for the UFC and get my revenge on him.”
Leon Edwards on The Culture Shock of Moving from Jamaica to The UK
During his conversation with Jim Rome, Leon Edwards was asked about traveling from Jamaica to the United Kingdom at an early age.
“It was a culture shock going from Kingston, Jamaica to Birmingham in the UK. Just a totally different life. Less poverty I would say and way more options to do stuff with your life. In Jamaica, it was more difficult. You had a more difficult background born in poverty. So yeah, it was totally different… Like culture shock.”
The UK is where ‘Rocky’ discovered MMA. Encouraged by his mother to join a local gym to stay off the street and out of trouble, Edwards quickly discovered his natural ability.
“I knew nothing about it. First time I saw it, I thought it was a boxing gym. She brought me to the gym to keep me from getting into trouble. Hanging out in the street, getting into trouble, you know. She’s all, ‘you should give MMA a go.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll give it a go just for you.’ Went to the gym and from the first day, I was getting feedback from the coaches and the other athletes. That’s what kept me in the gym. Kept me wanting to go back.
“I think I had a great talent for it. I took to it in a certain way. After the positive feedback from the coaches, was keeping me going back and I wanted to improve. I wanted to get more positive feedback. I stuck to it, stuck in the gym, and now here we are. The welterweight champion of the world.”