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Did Leon Edwards turn down a fight against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson?

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Modified 20 Dec 2020, 09:50 IST
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UFC Welterweight contender Leon Edwards turned down a potential fight against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson back in October before accepting a fight against Khamzat Chimaev. Wonderboy called out Edwards on Twitter, but Rocky quickly shut it down on social media before explaining how the fight doesn't make sense for him:

"As far as Wonderboy, he got knocked out like a fight ago. [Anthony] Pettis knocked him out one fight ago. If I go out there right now and I fight Wonderboy and I beat Wonderboy the UFC will be like ‘let’s go one more in the top-five and then we’ll go for a title.’ They wouldn’t give me a title shot straight away," he said.
"For me to get to the world title, which is my aim and my dream, is to beat one of those top-four [guys]. I have to fight someone in the top-four to get my title shot. I’ve done all the Wonderboy fights. I’ve been there, done it. I’m on an eight-fight win streak now. I don’t need to go fight someone like Wonderboy. He does nothing for my career."

Since then, the UFC have reportedly strong-armed Edwards into a fight against the Russian up-and-comer Chimaev. The British fighter was removed from the rankings for inactivity before being added again once the fight was booked. 

The fight was initially scheduled to be the main event if UFC Las Vegas 17, before being cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test for Edwards. Although, the fight is likely to be rebooked earlier next year, as Dana White suggested later. 

Leon Edwards (black shorts) of England and Bryan Barberena of the USA
Leon Edwards (black shorts) of England and Bryan Barberena of the USA

Wonderboy's win against Geoff Neal proves Edwards' refusal to be short-sighted. Despite the KO to Pettis, Wonderboy's doubters were proved wrong when he beat Brazilian brawler Vicente Luque. 

However, with the comprehensive victory against Neal, Wonderboy reinstates himself in the title picture. 

Published 20 Dec 2020, 09:50 IST
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