Welterweight champion Edwards believes he will force former champion Usman into retirement
UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards wants to retire Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 on Saturday. Edwards became the champion last August at UFC 278 after knocking Usman out with a Hail Mary of a head kick in the final minute of a fight where Usman was cruising to a 49-46 victory.
For Edwards, it wasn't a fluke and he's going to prove it on Saturday and send Usman into retirement in the process.
“Our mentalities are in two different places,” Edwards said at UFC 286 media day. “I feel like he’s on his way out, and I was going to open the door for him – give him another path to follow his fashion dreams and follow wherever he wants to go."
It’s really not surprising to see the champ so confident, as he is fighting a rematch as the only guy to ever defeat Usman and he's doing it in his home country of England. Usman does hold a win over Edwards and absolutely looked like the better fighter at UFC 278, none of that matters to Edwards, as he is the defending champion this weekend.
“I know Kamaru – he’s using that as, ‘Oh yeah, he was tired in the fight.’ Whether I was tired or not, you got knocked out – and that’s it. So at the end of the day, that’s all that matters," Edwards said.
“Even though I was tired, he couldn’t hurt me. I wasn’t hurt, really – it was more a fatigue issue. He was wailing at my gloves and I was catching it all on my gloves. Even on my worst day, I defeated him. He’s improved from when we’ve first fought, but so have I.”
The pair fought for the first time in 2015 when Usman easily won a three-round decision using his wrestling to overwhelm Edwards. Usman has won six of the eight rounds that these two have spent in the Octagon. But Edwards’ knockout has made him supremely confident that he will again put the former champion out to pasture.
Kamaru Usman is considered to be one of the top UFC welterweights of all time
Usman has spent such a large portion of his career as the UFC welterweight champ that watching him fight as anything else would not have the same aura, especially when considering he is going to be 36 years old soon, has taken a lot of damage to his right hand as an orthodox fighter, and has taken unbelievable damage to his knees from being in combat sports for most of his life
Edwards, on the other hand, seems to have less pressure on him. If he loses, he is this generation’s Matt Serra and will always be remembered for putting away a legend when nobody believed in him. If Edwards loses, he will still get a big money fight against Jorge Masvidal, probably once again in England, and you’d have to expect it’s a fight that Leon would win. He is also young, and can very easily lose this fight, wait for Usman to retire fairly soon, and once again challenge for the belt.