Welterweight champion Leon Edwards has decided to skip his next fight in London, which is rumored to be held in July by the UFC.
Edwards recently defended his title against Kamaru Usman in their trilogy bout at UFC 286 in March, and he believes that the July event is too soon for him to compete in another fight.
Instead, Edwards (21-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) is targeting the UFC 294 card on October 22, which will take place in Abu Dhabi. He hopes to compete in the event and continue his successful career in the welterweight division.
“Unless it comes with some stupid money, then I might consider (London),” Edwards told Sky Sports. “The bag always talks. Come with some stupid money, and I might consider it. I fought under a month ago, so I’ve still got stuff I’ve got to do first. Literally next week, I would have to be back in camp. August to March, I did that already. Now they’re saying March to July (camp for the next one). I don’t think it makes sense.
“In the last year or so, I’ve fought three times I think. I’d love to fight now towards the end of the year. The Abu Dhabi card would be great. That would be the perfect timing. You’ve got a massive British population in the Emirates on that side of the world, so I feel like there’ll be a lot of fans coming out to see me, as well. That would be for me ideal.”
Dana White declared Colby Covington the No. 1 contender, but Edwards’ stance on Covington not deserving it still stands.
“At the moment in the division, there’s no clear No 1 contender,” Edwards said. “Colby is coming off two losses and one win. Gilbert (Burns is) similar. I had to go earn like 10 fights in a row to fight for the world title. These guys are winning one fight, losing one fight, and then fighting for a world title.
“Colby has been uninjured, sitting on the sidelines, turning down fights for over a year. Nobody else has done that and earned a title shot from doing that. If you believe you’re a champion, you should fight all the guys offered to you – the Burns, the Khamzat (Chimaevs).”
However, that doesn’t mean Edwards is shying away from the challenge. If it’s Covington the UFC insists on, “Rocky” isn’t concerned with the matchup.
“I think Colby Covington is like a BTEC (community college) Usman – there’s nothing there,” Edwards said. “If that’s what they want, I’ll give them that. The opponent doesn’t bother me, it’s just more the date. … I remember when I was going through the pandemic, he was like, ‘Who’s Leon Edwards?’ and now look: He’s like begging me for the title shot. How times have changed. Now I’m king of the hill and I’ll sit back and let him beg some more and I’ll consider it. I’ve earned it.
“He hasn’t earned his position. You can’t sit down uninjured for over a year, turn down fights and be like, ‘OK, I want a title shot now.’ Now I’m champion. I decide. Colby isn’t a champion, so doesn’t decide anything. That’s the difference. If it is Colby, then it is Colby. They’re all similar fights anyway. … There’s nothing fearful about Colby.”