Birmingham’s Leon Edwards hopes that a win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263 this weekend will finally land him a shot at Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title.
The Brit is currently sat third in the UFC rankings behind Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns.
Even though Edwards’ last fight back in March ended in a no-contest after an accidental eye poke which saw his opponent Beal Muhammad unable to continue, ‘Rocky’ is enjoying an unbeaten streak stretching back to 2016.
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Ironically, his last defeat was to Usman at UFC on Fox 17 – the current champ winning by decision in his official debut for the promotion.
Due to a combination of eight straight wins and the potential of beating Diaz, that is why Edwards views himself as the number one contender.
“After I go out and beat Nate Diaz – he’s a big name in the sport and they [UFC] hold him in high regards – I deserve a title shot and I believe it’s next,” Edwards told Sky Sports.
“That will be nine fights in a row, the third-most in the history of the promotion in welterweight. Usman is number one, GSP and then me. So, I believe that after June 12 I deserve a title shot and I will get one.”
Edwards also revealed that while this isn’t officially a fight to determine a number one contender for Usman’s championship, he believes it will be significant in that regard.
“My management team and I have spoken to them [UFC] about what’s next after this fight. This is nine fights in a row the kid has fought, and he’s beat everyone you’ve put in front of him, what more does he need to do to guarantee he gets a title shot next?”.
“They wouldn’t put on paper ‘ok, you’re 100 per cent next’, but they were like ‘yeah, you are 100 per cent next’. But they wouldn’t put it in writing.”
“Like I said, I’ll hurt Nate and put him away, I will put on a great performance, make the fans want to see it and hopefully the fans will push for it and we’ll get the fight made.”
However, before Edwards can look towards championship gold, he faces a man that has become synonymous with the UFC since his debut in 2007.
Alongside his older brother Nick, the Diaz’ have created a legacy in MMA that very few will match.
With his relentless trash-talking, never-say-die attitude and the iconic ‘Stockton Slap’, there’s no doubt that Diaz will bring something a bit different to fight week that will get fans excited; something that Edwards is prepared for.
“I’m 100 per cent ready for it. I’ve fought five rounds before, I’ve fought abroad before with different crowds, I’m ready. This is just another main event. You can build it up in your head: ‘I’m fighting Nate Diaz’, but it’s just another fight.”
“You don’t have to overcomplicate it, that’s what other guys do in their heads. Thinking ‘oh, this is a big opportunity’, but it’s not. If anything, it’s an opportunity for him to fight me.
“I’m the one that’s going out there and winning. He hasn’t fought since 2019. I’m focusing on getting the job done. I don’t want to overthink it; I believe that I’m the better fighter and I will prove that.”
“I’m going in there to stop him and I have every tool in my book to stop him. If I go out and be myself, I beat him. It’s going to be a great, entertaining fight and I cannot wait.”
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