Leon Edwards is putting everything on the line to compete later tonight (Sat., Mar. 13, 2021) at UFC Vegas 21 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The No. 3-ranked welterweight contender will be testing his eight-fight win streak against surging veteran Belal Muhammad in the main event.
Edwards, who hasn’t tasted defeat since a decision loss to Kamaru Usman back in 2015, will be making his first Octagon appearance in over 600 days. “Rocky” has been unable to lock down many opponents over the past two years and when he did have something scheduled it ended up getting canceled for one reason or another.
Given the fact that Edwards in his his athletic prime and hasn’t competed since July 2019 the welterweight contender was going to do whatever it took to stay on this weekend’s card after his original opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, pulled out. This included fighting a No. 13-ranked contender in Muhammad and putting everything on the line in his return.
“If I go out there and f—king lose to this kid, then all these title fights and all these big fights goes away,” Edwards told MMA Fighting. “I have to go out there and make a statement and show there’s levels to this and I deserve in the top tier of the promotion and that’s it really.
“’[I’m] taking him serious, I am focused 100 percent on Belal Muhammad cause if I go out there and lose, all them f**king title fights and No. 1 contender fight goes away. So that’s my priority. I’m focused fully on him and we’ll go from there after that.”
While Edwards is a sizeable favorite to defeat Muhammad at UFC Vegas 21 and return to the welterweight mix in fashion it’s important to give “Remember the Name” his due. Muhammad has produced a 8-1 record in the UFC’s jam-packed welterweight division since the start of 2017, only losing to Geoff Neal via decision two years ago. He trains with killers and has just as many fights inside of the Octagon as Edwards does (12).
“He’s a good, durable opponent. He pushes the pace to the fight. He’s an all right opponent,” Edwards said of Muhammad. “Every time he stepped up though, from what I’ve seen of his career, he’s always failed.
“He’s a mid-tier fighter, I would say for the UFC. This is a whole different level to what he’s used to and what he’s been against. That’s it really. I’m just levels above him and I can’t wait to go out there and show him. There’s levels to this sh*t.”
Edwards, 29, has been waiting a long time for his shot at UFC gold. Since his promotional debut in 2014 “Rocky” has evolved each and every time he’s stepped inside of the Octagon. He has defeated former world champions along the way and believes a ninth win in a row at UFC Vegas 21 will check the final box for his first UFC title bid.
“After this fight, that’s nine fights in a row,” Edwards said. “That’s the third most [wins] in the welterweight history of the promotion. I truly believe so. Everyone else had their go, had their chance to fight for a title and they all came up short. Colby [Covington] got stopped. [Gilbert] Burns got stopped. [Jorge] Masvidal got grounded out. So I feel I’ve worked my way back up. I’ve earned this spot and I truly believe I deserve the next shot at the title.
“When I go out there and look good and put Belal away and call out Kamaru Usman, like you said, I’m in the perfect position to jump the line and give me what I deserve. What I’ve been deserving. It’s not like I’ve only got one or two wins. This is my ninth win in a row. So I truly believe I deserve it and hopefully after this fight, we got to the UFC and see what’s on the table.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 21 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.