Ben Askren has some advice for UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards, who is struggling to get a big opportunity despite an eight-fight win-streak.
Edwards, who currently holds the No. 3 spot in the UFC welterweight rankings, has gone over a year without a fight, and has grown increasingly bellicose during that time.
Askren, who retired from competition after going 1-2 in the UFC in 2019, has some advice for the opponent-less Brit.
“No one’s putting Leon Edwards in there,” Askren said on Submission Radio, dismissing the possibility an Edwards title shot at this juncture. “Leon Edwards has gotta do a little more work first.
“If I were him, then—I didn’t know what the deal was, to be honest—I would say stop being picky, because he’s probably one of those that goes, ‘I only want to fight this guy or this guy’ and the UFC offers him someone else and then he says no,” Askren added, encouraging Edwards to take a fight. “Take it upon yourself, fight whoever they’re giving you, and take it upon yourself to make yourself the big show. That’s something, you know, he’s one of those guys that says, ‘well, I don’t want to talk’. But that gets you worth in the UFC. So, it’s like, you can act like you can do whatever you want, but then when it effects the reality of the situation, then you’re pissing and moaning about it, when it’s like, well no, we know this game works.
“This game has a very specific way [that] it works,” Askren continued. “The guys who can draw, the guys who can sell, get promoted to the top really quickly. Is that necessarily fair from a competitive standpoint? Probably not. But it’s probably also not gonna change.”
Interestingly, Edwards recently got some very similar advice from Chael Sonnen who, like Askren, was able to parlay a big personality into some huge opportunities inside the Octagon.
“Leon Edwards does everything right except make himself interesting,” Sonnen said on a recent episode of ESPN’s Ariel & The Bad Guy. “There’s another guy in the same weight class that does the same thing. His name is Neil Magny. The only time in a matchmakers’ meeting that these guys names are even brought up is when Sean Shelby is flipping through the contracts and says ‘oh we owe this guy a fight, who should we put him with?’
“You want to have a title fight or a big fight, the first thing you have to be is interesting,” Sonnen added. “Both of those guys are great fighters, but they don’t bring any interest to the table. Leon Edwards coming out and calling for a fight that anybody that has the sense knows he isn’t going to get not only wastes a media opportunity, but it makes him look like he doesn’t have power in this sport. The worst thing you can be in this sport is powerless. The absolute worse thing you can do is call for a shot, in front of SportsCenter, and not get it.”
What do you make of this advice? Is it time for Leon Edwards to make some changes?