The situation has unquestionably changed from when Leon Edwards was without the welterweight belt and had a 0-1 head-to-head record versus Kamaru Usman at this time last year.
In clashes in August of last year and March of this year, Edwards defeated Usman three times. He initially evened the match and robbed the long-reigning champion of the belt in Utah with a vicious fifth-round head kick knockout.
Though some claimed that the manner of that victory was an accident, “Rocky” gave a blow to his critics by defeating “The Nigerian Nightmare” over the course of five rounds at UFC 286 in London.
The future of Usman became a heated question following a second straight defeat to Edwards. The former 170-pound champion, though, was fast to jump back on the horse despite many predicting a protracted absence from the sport and possibly even a retirement announcement.
That comes as no surprise to Edwards.
Edwards discussed his two victories over Usman during a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin and the former champion’s vow to more appearances inside the Octagon.
While some people have been surprised by Usman’s prompt return to training and apparent renewed determination, “Rocky” would not have expected anything less from the man who he still considers to be the greatest in the welterweight division.
“Not really (surprised that he’s not retiring), ’cause he is a dog, you know?” Edwards said. “I truly believe that he still beats everyone within the top five, top 10, apart from me. He’s a great competitor. Everyone’s trying to say now that he’s lost a step because I beat him. But when he was knocking Colby (Covington) out, knocking (Jorge) Masvidal out, he didn’t lose a step? Now, suddenly after I beat him twice, he’s lost a step.”
“It is what it is, what people say. But yeah, like I say, It’s good to have him in the game. He is a great fighter,” Edwards continued. “I’m just the better man, and that’s it.”
Usman doesn’t yet have a confirmed opponent or return date after UFC 286, but he seems to have one man in mind.
Usman and Khamzat Chimaev have argued back and forth in interviews and on social media since he suggested a cage date with the opponent as the obvious next step for his career. Although “Borz” seems willing to take on “The Nigerian Nightmare,” there isn’t a solid sign that the potential clash will happen anytime soon.