Few lightweight mixed martial artists have been where Yves Edwards (36-15-1) has been and are still strapping on four-ounce gloves.
Edwards has fought champions, and been written-off as washed up. He's fought around the world and in most major MMA promotions since 1997. And, now Edwards will ride a two-fight win streak into Maximum Fighting Championship at River Cree Casino February 26.
Edwards TKO'd Kyle Jensen in October and tapped James Warfield in a triangle choke in September, both intense performances for the veteran who has recommitted himself at American Top Team to returning to the top of the lightweight division.
"You know, I think it’s all mental. You hear coming up that so much of this sport is mental and you don’t really understand it until you’ve been around for awhile," Edwards explained Friday. "Now, I’ve been around for awhile and I’ve seen a lot of guys not perform the way they’re capable of. But, I know where I need to be and I’m just ready to fight."
But, MFC CEO Mark Pavelich said Friday, "It's a one-off." He was referring to Edwards's new one-fight contract with MFC. "Let's see where Yves is at."
That's a challenge to Edwards to show Canadian MMA fans and the world that he's still one of the world's most dynamic, intimidating fighters at 155-pounds.
"I’m down to be around [in the MFC]," Edwards said. "Guys I’m friends with – Pete Spratt, Luigi Fioravanti – they’ve told me they’ve been treated real well by MFC. I’ve seen the shows and it’s a great production. This is a one-fight contract, but I want to show what I can do and sign a multi-fight deal."
Before Edwards's two wins over Jensen and Warfield, Edwards had dropped two to Duane Ludwig and KJ Noons, and before that had won three consecutive. Streaks of wins and losses have defined Edwards's career since he went 7-0 from 2003 through 2005.
That streak included a highlight reel flying head kick knockout of Josh Thomson and two split decision victories over fellow MFC lightweight Hermes Franca. At the River Cree Casino February 26, Edwards will fight Sweden’s Per Eklund (15-4-1), also debuting in MFC.
"He’s good off his back, he’s a good kickboxer," Edwards said of his opponent. "He’s not a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. He’s good at everything." But, Edwards added, "My advantage is being able to make adjustments in fights to take advantage of weaknesses."
Both lightweights have the full MMA skill set making for an unpredictable, exciting matchup. They share just one common opponent. Edwards lost a unanimous decision to Tatsuya Kawajiri in 2003 while Eklund was TKO’d by Kawajiri in 2006.
Edwards will be the favorite going into the fight, but Eklund is eminently capable of an upset if Edwards takes him lightly. While gunning to extend his winning streak to three with a win over Eklund, Edwards said he has no interest in making it three wins over Hermes Franca during his MFC career.
"Yeah, they were close fights, good fights, but I’ve beat [Franca] twice. There’s really no reason for me to fight him again unless it’s for a title," said Edwards.
And, Edwards expects to ride his current win streak right into an MFC lightweight title, through Eklund in February, Franca in the future if necessary, and any fighter MFC pits him against.