With a dominant unanimous decision victory over legendary fighter and former champion Rafael Dos Anjos, British fighter Leon “Rocky” Edwards is no doubt on a Collision course with the top 5 fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division, which is ruled over by the Nigerian-American champion Kamaru Usman.
Having obtained Notable wins over veterans of the sport such as, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Gunnar nelson, Leon Edwards is a definitely a force to be reckoned with as well as a fighter to keep your eyes on due to his impressive 8 fight win streak.
Edwards was born in the crime-infested streets of Kingston, Jamaica and lived with his father, mother and brother in a one-room wooden hut with a zinc roof. Edwards described Kingston as being “Crazy it was filled with crime and gangs. The road you lived on was your “lane”. That’s your area and you can’t go anywhere else. You’re constantly beefing with people down the road from you. At night, you couldn’t go down those other roads. Everyone is broke, but they’re still warring over territory”. Despite this Edwards states that “My mom and my dad provided me with most things I wanted in life. It was never a sad story”, attributing this to the fact that his father was involved in some “Questionable activities”. Because of his father, Leon was somewhat protected from the senseless violence that consumed the poverty struck streets of Kingston.
In an effort to better the living conditions for his family Leon Edwards’s father moved them out to Aston, Birmingham, where his mother worked cleaning jobs to support the family. However, violence did not leave Edward’s life with Aston being in a constant gang war. This caused Leon to fall into the turbulent gang culture as a means of survival with his options being so limited.
When Leon was 14 his father was brutally gunned down at a nightclub in London, pushing Leon further into the world of crime, he describes his crew being involved in robberies, stabbings, fights, selling drugs. Leon was even arrested multiple times for fights and having a knife.
Leon frequently fought in the streets for a variety of reasons causing him to be given the nickname “Rocky” from his school, Aston Manor Academy.
At the age of 17, Leon’s mother influenced him to join the Ultimate Training Centre, an MMA gym in Erdington, Birmingham, in hopes that it would keep him occupied, off the streets and out of trouble. Edwards began training at the gym two to three times per day, every day and within a few months was teaching classes for younger children. Only 8 months after having started training MMA Leon had his first amateur fight, after which he went on to win a tournament at the gym. Upon learning that he was a natural at the sport Leon decided to stick with MMA, knowing that it was what he wanted to do.
Leon Edwards signed with the UFC in 2014 shortly after winning the BAMMA welterweight title in London.
Leon’s UFC career started off to a “Rocky” start with his first fight against Claudio Silva ending in a split decision with Claudio’s hand being raised at the end of the fight. The fight did not go Edward’s way with Silva cleverly forcing grappling exchanges, successfully completing 6 takedowns and keeping the fight on the ground where Edwards was at a disadvantage.
Even after having lost his UFC debut Leon did not allow himself to be deterred and won his next 2 fights, with one being a first-round knockout in which Leon dispatched Seth Baczynski in just 8 seconds.
This winning streak came to an abrupt halt however when Leon Edwards met with the “Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman – the current welterweight champion. Usman kept the fight where Edwards was most uncomfortable, on the ground and in the clinch. Kamaru took down Leon to the ground a total of 12 times and was able to land 100 strikes while on the ground to attain the unanimous decision victory after dominating Edwards for 3 whole rounds.
After this loss, Edwards main weakness was exposed – wrestlers. With both of his losses coming from fighters who are experienced enough to be comfortable fighting on the ground. Despite Leon being a seasoned striker and a serious threat while on his feet, his opponent’s wrestling oriented styles were evidently what caused him to struggle and ultimately lose in both of those fights.
Back On Track
Since then Edwards has not lost at all and has even proved himself to have drastically improved his wrestling abilities. Especially in the clinch where he cleverly utilises the head posting technique to stop his opponent from wrapping their arms around him and securing the takedown as well as creating some distance between him and his opponent in order to land body strikes as well as vicious elbows to the head.
A prime example of Leon Edward’s improved wrestling is visible in the first 40 seconds of his most recent fight with Rafael Dos Anjos where he was able to secure a takedown against the expert wrestler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, giving Rafael an extra threat to watch out for from the get-go. He was not afraid to meet the pressure striker RDA in the middle of the octagon either, trading blows and getting the better of most striking exchanges and then forcing the clinch to shut down the pressure Rafael tried continuously to build up. With this high amount of fight IQ and a tactical game plan, Leon Edwards was able to fight a near-perfect fight and secure the unanimous decision victory.
Shortly after this display of dominance Leon once again called out someone who he has previously had a heated altercation with at UFC Fight Night 147 – Jorge Masvidal. After coming off of big victories the two fighters met backstage while Masvidal was in the middle of an interview. After a verbal exchange, Masvidal proceeded to walk towards Edwards in a calm manner before suddenly unloading a barrage of punches at Edwards, opening up a cut under his eye.
Even before this Edwards was calling for a fight against the new record holder for fastest knockout in UFC history. Now may have been the perfect time for this matchup to become a reality with both fighters having recently beat their opponents in impressive fashion. As well as this it may have served as a way to determine who should next fight for the welterweight title against the winner of Kamaru Usman Vs Colby Covington.
However, with Masvidal set to face Nate Diaz for the “BMF” title at UFC 244, this bout seems unlikely to be made this year.
At only 27 years of age, Leon Edwards says he knows what his future holds- to one day be known as a UFC Champion.