Salt Lake City, UT — It’s been seven years since his first encounter with Kamaru Usman, and for Leon Edwards, his rematch — this time for the UFC’s welterweight championship — is a whole new ballgame.
“I look at it as a brand new fight, a brand new opponent. He’s improved, I’ve improved,” Edwards (19-3, 1NC) told media outlets including Cageside Press ahead of this Saturday’s UFC 278. “It’s two different fights.”
Edwards has not lost since that first meeting with Usman. Neither has the champ. Both are riding impressive undefeated streaks into the fight, with many citing Usman’s improved striking of late as a bright spot. Edwards still believes he holds a significant advantage in that realm, however.
“I’m just leaps ahead of him when it comes to striking. He’s a good wrestler, but I’m a good mixed martial artist,” said Edwards. “I can put it all together. Great jiu-jitsu, good grappling.”
As it has ahead of several of Usman’s recent fights, talk has sprung up about the champ’s place in the sport, and in the GOAT (greatest of all time) debate, both at welterweight and overall. Edwards, for one, doesn’t see it.
“All this pound-for-pound and all this, I just don’t see it. I didn’t feel it in the fight, I don’t see it in his techniques. I just don’t see it,” he stated. “He is a very good fighter, he has improved. And I’m not going into this fight blinded, thinking ‘this is another wrestler again.’ It’s not. I just don’t see the pound-for-pound thing.”
Whether he agrees or not, however, Leon Edwards does not begrudge Usman playing the part.
“That’s all he talks about now, is pound-for-pound. He’s stopped wearing t-shirts. He’s loving it. He’s earned it,” said Edwards. “I’m not going to sit here and hate on him. Fair play.”
Watch the full UFC 278 media day scrum with Leon Edwards above.