This weekend sees, Leon Edwards compete in the biggest fight of his career. Challenging for the UFC Welterweight championship against the 20-1 champ, Kamaru Usman.
With UFC 278 in touching distance, we thought we would revisit the unbelievable ten-fight streak that saw Leon get his chance at gold.
19-3 as a pro, two of his losses have come inside the UFC. One was a split decision in his debut against Claudio Silva. The other was to current champion and next week’s opponent Kamaru Usman back in 2015.
Since this loss, he hasn’t tasted defeat since going ten unbeaten. Let’s take a look at the impressive run that has seen him surge up the division and earn a shot at gold.
Fight One: Dominic Waters
The first of the ten came in May 2016 and was against the at the time 9-4 Dominic Waters. Not a star name, but still a UFC fighter. Leon Edwards would defeat the Americans via a unanimous decision in a comfortable win.
This loss for Dominic saw his UFC tenure come to an end. The end of someone’s UFC career was the springboard for another’s.
Fight Two: Albert Tumenov
This one was a big win for Leon Edwards. Despite coming off a loss, Albert was still a very capable UFC talent. At 16-3 with a UFC record of 5-2. He held wins over Lorenz Larkin and Alan Jouban.
This was the first finish of the ten fights, as Leon would submit the big Russian three minutes into round three. Since this loss, Tumenov has gone on a six-fight winning streak.
Fight Three: Vicente Luque
A win that has aged tremendously well for Leon was against now number nine Vincente Luque. One of the most dangerous men in the division and someone who always brings the fight. Luque hit a wall when he faced Leon Edwards.
A well-rounded MMA match that saw both men land and score takedowns. It was Leon who did more out, landing the Brazilian by double and scoring one more takedown. All three judges scored the contest 29-28 in favour of “Rocky”.
Since this win, both men have become top ten mainstays and have competed against some of the best 170-pounders on the planet.
Fight Four: Bryan Barberena
Fight four would see Edwards take on another savage in the form of Bryan Barberena. With a record of 13-4 at the time. ”Bam Bam” is always tough and brings the fight, and he did just that.
Despite facing adversity in the form of a vicious uppercut in round two that knocked him down. Leon would prevail, using his high fight IQ to out grapple Bryan and score the unanimous decision 29-28.
Another well-aged victory for “Rocky”. Bryan is currently on a three-fight winning streak, the most recent against former champion Robbie Lawler.
Fight Five: Peter Sobotta
A name many newer MMA fans might not be familiar with, Peter Sobotta wasn’t the biggest or best name. However, the German fighter was a nuisance in the cage for all his opponents. 17-5-1 at the time with four UFC wins in two different stints.
This was a comfortable one for Edwards. He controlled the fight and did damage on both the feet and ground as it looked like he was about to earn another UD win. Leon got the TKO with one second on the clock.
Not the most notorious of wins. Peter Sobotta stepped up when nobody else would fight Leon. Edwards did as he did and got the win moving to five in a row.
Fight Six: Donald Cerrone
The biggest name on his resume at the time. Taking out an MMA legend like “Cowboy” proved Leon was the real deal. His first main event, this fight, took place in Singapore.
His first five-rounder against a legend, this didn’t phase Leon. He out-struck Cerrone over all five rounds. Donald did have his moments securing a takedown and holding control over Leon. Despite this, Leon still took the win. 48-47.
A win over Cerrone will always age well, especially since he was coming off a TKO win. This was his first big-name win, and people started to talk about Leon as a contender.
Fight Seven: Gunnar Nelson
Co-main eventing UFC London: Till vs Masvidal. He would take on SBG Ireland’s grappling sensation and fan favourite Gunnar Nelson. The Icelandic star was always a tough test for any Welterweight, regardless of form.
The narrative of the fight was if Leon won, he would take on the main-events winner. So when he defeated Gunnar via split decision, the path seemed clear. After out landing Nelson across the fight and hurting him bad. He did find himself in trouble late, but once again, his fight IQ prevailed, and he got the win. A surprise split decision as all of the 22 journalists gave it to Leon.
Gunnar Nelson is a Welterweight mainstay. One of the most dangerous grapplers in the division, a win against him is always good, especially when you survive him mounting you as Leon did.
After the fight and altercation broke out between Leon and the main event winner Jorge Masvidal, this score is yet to be settled.
Fight Eight: Rafael dos Anjos
Eighth on Leon’s hit list was former Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Making the jump up to 170, RDA quickly became one of the division’s top fighters. Competing for interim gold, he was right up there.
Leon’s second main event, this one, was taking place in Texas. Leon would once again use his whole arsenal in this one. Out striking the Brazilian and also scored three takedowns against the BJJ black belt. He would win this one 50-45, 49-47, 49-47. This fight moved Leon into the division’s top five.
A huge name to add to the resume. RDA has since gone back to Lightweight and once again proved why he is one of the company’s most consistent fighters. Entering the upper echelons once again.
Fight Nine: Belal Muhammad
After a string of extremely bad luck, mainly due to Covid-19. Leon would have four fights cancelled or postponed in a year. Willing to fight anyone and everyone to enter the cage, he agreed to take on #14 Belal Muhammad despite being ranked much higher.
In the fight, though, Leon’s bad luck would continue. As in round two, an accidental eye poke from the Brit would render Belal unable to continue. Not a fair barometer for the rest of the fight. However, round one did see Leon Edwards take control. Outlanding Belal by over double.
Belal has since put this no contest behind him and has surged up the division. Now ranked in the top five. A win next time for both could see them compete in a championship rematch.
Fight Ten: Nate Diaz
After an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, Nate Diaz said he wanted to fight the best, name-checking, Leon Edwards. This got Leon’s attention, who would take the chance and take on Nate at UFC 263. This fight would be the first five-round non-main-event in UFC history.
Despite his legendary career and enormous fan base. The durable Diaz was no match for Leon Edwards. He was outworked throughout and tripped several times. Besides a late land for Nate, Leon took the win comfortably. 49-46 on all scorecards.
Now ten in a row without tasting defeat, here we are. Taking on the last man to beat him for championship gold. The improvements made by Leon Edwards are clear to see. Will it be repeated or revenge?
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking back at Leon Edwards’ ten-fight streak.
Does Leon Edwards make it 11 this week at UFC 278?
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images