UFC 269, which takes place on Dec. 11, 2021, took quite the hit last week when Jorge Masvidal pulled out of his Welterweight contender fight against Leon Edwards.
Edwards — whose 2021 has only been half-cursed compared to the nightmare that was 2020 — decided to step off the card in response and await a title shot against Kamaru Usman ... which isn’t exactly guaranteed, considering he’s only had one win in the last two years.
Edwards spoke to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto about the situation and let us know where his head is.
“I wanted to get three fights this year as last year was so inactive,” Edwards explained. “I wanted to be very active this year and have this fight pull out ... this one I was looking forward to. Even though I really feel like I deserve a title shot, this is like a stop-off, just get it out of the way, get it done, get the score settled. Move on to my well deserved title shot, what I’ve earned years ago.”
“I’m on a 10-fight winning streak, that’s the most in the division. All these other guys, they win one they lose one. There’s no momentum like I’m on now. So I’m looking forward to my well-deserved title shot next.”
When asked why he didn’t stay on the card and fight someone else, Edwards argued that nothing made sense.
“There’s no one else,” he said. “The only reason I was making a stop off was because of Jorge and the history we had and the background to build the fight. That would get me up in the morning to work hard and want to perform well. There’s literally no one else.”
“So like I said, I truly believe that I deserve a title shot. I worked my way up, I’ve fought everyone, I’ve been matched up with unranked guys, guys ranked way below me and I still took the fight. I said yes every time they phoned and now I feel like I truly deserve what I’ve earned and worked for.”
It’s certainly a calculated decision from Edwards. UFC hasn’t historically appreciated fighters sitting out rather than fighting, no matter how much they may deserve a shot or how many favors they’ve granted in the past.
But, Edwards is confident a title shot is coming his way.
“I feel they’re now seeing it,” Edwards said. “They now believe I am well-deserving. There is no one else for Usman to fight. I’m the guy that’s saying ‘yes’ all the time. I’m the guy going out there and fighting. I feel the promotion and I am on the same page, let’s say that.”