"Hes talking about everything apart from the fight"- Leon Edwards gives his take on what might be distracting Kamaru Usman from their upcoming fight at UFC 278
During a media day to promote the August 20 fight in Salt Lake City, Edwards said:
"He's talking about everything apart from the fight. He's talking about going up to 205, fighting Canelo, everything apart from the fight. I'm so focused on becoming a world champion. If he thinks it's gonna be like the first fight, he's already lost the fight. I've erased that fight out of my mind a long time ago. If he thinks I'm the same kid as in that fight, then we'll see Saturday night."
Usman and Edwards fought once before back in 2015, with 'The Nigerian Nightmare' out-wrestling 'Rocky' for a unanimous decision win. Usman used his wrestling to shut Edwards down, and while Edwards was able to fend off his wrestling through much of the first round, Usman's takedowns found more success as the fight wore on.
Seven years later and Leon Edwards swears he's a completely different fighter. It's hard to know for sure because he hasn't been challenged by wrestlers as strong as Usman since, but Edwards did win a one-sided victory over Rafael dos Anjos in 2019 where the Brazilian was unable to secure a single takedown over 25 minutes of fighting.
Watch Leon Edwards discuss his title fight against Kamaru Usman below:
John McCarthy warns Kamaru Usman not to strike with Leon Edwards
Leon Edwards has a strong overall MMA game but his bread and butter lies with his technical striking. While Kamaru Usman has shown over his last few fights that he's not a one-dimensional wrestler at all, 'Big' John McCarthy suggested trying to stand with Edwards would be a bad idea.
In a recent episode of Weighing In, McCarthy said:
"If Usman decides to be the striker in this fight, he's making a mistake. That's a mistake he does not need to lead himself down to, he needs to be the complete mixed martial artist. Use your wrestling, you know how, you've beat him before, go back to that blueprint because it worked the first time."
As always, it will be the fighter that best mixes their martial arts that will likely come out on top. If Usman uses the threat of his wrestling to set up strikes like he did in the second Jorge Masvidal fight, he could catch Edwards with a big shot. If Edwards isn't afraid to go to the mat with Kamaru Usman, it will make him less hesitant to strike when he is on his feet.