For Leon Edwards, the feeling ahead of UFC San Antonio is much different than his last trip to the states, which resulted in a loss to Kamaru Usman in 2015.
San Antonio, TX — Leon Edwards is in his second UFC main event this Saturday. He’ll be hoping, no doubt, that this one goes better than the last. But a lot has changed since then, given that Edwards subsequently took off on a seven-fight win streak. That tear through the welterweight division earned him the headlining spot against Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC San Antonio.
Being back in America, “it feels good,” Edwards told media outlets including Cageside Press at the event’s media day. “To fight a former world champion, you know, RDA, and in America, main event in America, that’s quite a big thing for me. It feels good to be here in this fight, to able to showcase for the kids back in my home town, that you can come from where I come from, and be where I am and headline a main building, USA, and ESPN, one of the biggest channels in the world.”
Perhaps the key, it feels like he belongs. “It feels good to me. It does not feel like overwhelming, it feels like at home. I feel natural here.”
Leon’s last trip to America didn’t go his way. But that was in 2015, against future champion Kamaru Usman. And Edwards (17-3) made what he feels were some mistakes ahead of that fight, including moving camps to the U.S. in preparation.
That said, while he fought in Europe ever after, he does like fighting in the U.S. “I like fighting here, I like the weather, the weather’s good. But I also like fighting at home. Because it’s like down the road, an hour’s drive.” Plus, his family is close by. “I enjoy both. I would like to come out here more often. This is my second fight. I’d like to come again, hopefully next year for the world title.”
“It’s hot,” he admitted when asked if he really meant he liked the weather in San Antonio. “I’ve been here for two weeks. It’ll be two weeks come fight time. I’m acclimatized now. I feel good. My sleeping pattern’s back to normal. I’m training in the heat, I’m running in the heat. I feel good about it. I’m from Jamaica, born in Jamaica, I’m used to the heat, so it’s good.”
Edwards has spoken all week of bigger aspirations. Title aspirations. His opponent has suggested Edwards might be overlooking him. However, to reach those aspirations, “I took it serious, because RDA is a former world champion. He’s a legend of the sport. Everyone holds him in high regard.”
“I took it as such. I focused on my training. I need to beat him to get to where I want to be. So he’s just another obstacle in the way,” he added.
Later, Edwards would address rival Jorge Masvidal, whose “three piece and a soda” scuffle with Edwards back stage earlier this year became a thing of MMA legend. Asked if he’d prefer a title shot, or Masvidal first, the answer was simple. “My aim is to be world champion. I’m not chasing Masvidal,” said “Rocky.” “Like I said that fight will happen either next or after the title shot. That fight will happen down the line. My aim right now, my focus is to go out there and beat RDA Saturday night and then get to the rematch with Usman.” However, eventually, “the Masvidal fight will happen.”
For more from Leon Edwards, watch the full UFC San Antonio media day press scrum above.