Less than two weeks away from his challenge for UFC gold, for throwback Thursday this week, we take a look at the time Leon Edwards claimed gold in the UK.
In a rematch against Kamaru Usman, the first of which he lost. Leon will have his work cut out for him. However, Leon proved back in 2014 that he has what it takes to claim gold and looks to do it once again as he looks to become only the second man to win a UFC championship from the UK.
Road to BAMMA
Leon Edwards began his professional career in 2011. Making his debut at Fight UK MMA: Fight UK 4, he won this fight against Damian Zlotnicki via first-round TKO.
After impressing in his first appearance, he would fight twice more for the promotion. His next would be a unanimous decision victory over Pawel Zwiefka.
Now 2-0, he would taste defeat for the first time. However, it wasn’t due to a lack of skill. Three minutes into the third round, Leon threw an illegal knee that saw him get disqualified.
A brief stop in Strength and Honour saw him win again. Defeating Craig White at SAH 14 via technical decision.
Sitting at 3-1 now, his only loss came via DQ. Leon Edwards was a name being talked about by all of UK MMA. It wasn’t long before one of the UK’s biggest promotions came calling as BAMMA acquired the then 21-year-old.
Rise to BAMMA Title
Less than a month after his last fight, Leon would make his promotional debut. Taking on Jonathan Bilton at BAMMA 11, he delivered in his debut big time. Defeating his opponent in the second round with knees, securing a TKO victory.
Moving on, his next outing saw him earn his first submission victory. It only took him 2:10 to lock in an arm triangle choke to take out Adam Boussif at BAMMA 13.
Flying through the BAMMA competition, he continued and won his third fight in a quick time once again. At BAMMA 14, he KO’d Wendle Lewis after only 1:20, making a statement to all watching.
Now 3-0 in BAMMA and 6-1 as a professional, the talent the young fighter had was clear to see. Next up would be his toughest test yet, as he challenged for the Welterweight title.
Leon’s BAMMA Title Win
After winning and finishing all three of his bouts in the promotion, Leon Edwards earned his shot at the gold. On May 5th 2014, at BAMMA 15, he took on Wayne Murrie for the strap.
Wayne had a clear advantage when it came to experience, holding a record of 18-5-1 at the time. Also boasting an impressive 15 finishes, five via KO/TKO and ten submissions.
This fight would be, without doubt, the toughest in the career of Leon Edwards so far.
The game plan was clear as the fight started for Wayne Murrie. He wanted the takedown. After working Leon against the fence for around two minutes, he was unable to get the fight to the mat. “Rocky”, Edwards then secured his own takedown.
Now in control. Leon moved to Wayne’s back before quickly and clinically locking in a rear naked choke. 3:13 into round one, Leon Edwards gets the tap and wins.
At 22, with a record of 7-1, he was now BAMMA Welterweight champion. In a fight where he was up against it, he came through it with flying colours.
He would go on to defend his belt once before moving to the UFC. At BAMMA 16 he would KO Shaun Taylor at 3:30 in round three to retain his championship belt.
Could History Repeat Itself?
His UK and BAMMA run was just the start for Leon Edwards. Moving into the UFC, he has shown the MMA world how good he is. With a UFC record of 11-2 (1 NC) and a ten-fight unbeaten streak.
He now looks to achieve his biggest accolade to date and defeat the unstoppable Welterweight king Kamaru Usman. For those doubting his championship credentials, his time in BAMMA should provide a short lesson.
Proving he can not only win gold but do it against an opponent whose intention is to wrestle. This trip down memory lane has provided an interesting look at how accomplished Leon Edwards is. If you’re to count him out, he might just make you eat your words.
Can Leon Edwards claim UFC gold eight years after his BAMMA title win?
Featured image credits to BAMMA