EXCLUSIVE | Leon Edwards explains his motivation as he surges to the top of the welterweight division

Leon Edwards
Image: @ufc on Instagram

Leon Edwards is more than just some guy that got into it with Jorge Masvidal at UFC London this past March. In fact, Leon Edwards has the resume that should see him inside the top-10 in the UFC’s welterweight division, yet because he doesn’t trash talk like others in his division, he still sits waiting for his chance at a top-ranked opponent.

In an exclusive interview with BJPenn.com, Edwards discussed how he’s enjoying the momentum of his current winning streak, fighting for his country and family, and having his sights set on a title shot by the end of 2019.

Coming off his seventh consecutive win where he defeated Gunnar Nelson at UFC London in March, Leon Edwards has aimed to show that he will defeat his opponents in the area that they are strongest in. For Edwards, he made it a priority of his to defeat Nelson in the grappling exchanges, as that is what Nelson is best known for.

“I said to everyone leading up to the fight that I was going out there looking to grapple with this man and strike with him,” he said. “For me going out there and doing it the way I did it, I feel I proved more. I felt good and I consider him to be one of the best grapplers in the UFC, so it was a good win. Now here I am on a seven fight win streak, looking forward to top-5 next.”

It was the grappling he used against Nelson and the striking he showcased against Donald Cerrone where Leon Edwards has taken it upon himself to better his opponent in every aspect of the fight.

“I feel like I am number 1 in the world, so for me being number 1, I should be able to fight wherever the fight goes, on the ground or on the feet. So I try to break my opponents at what they’re good at, if you can break them at what they’re good at, they’ve got nothing left. It’s worked out well for me and here I am.”

While many fans called for a fight between Edwards and Jorge Masvidal following their backstage altercation, “Rocky” want to be clear that, the time will come for him to fight “Gamebred” and right now is main focus is on what gets him closer to a title opportunity.

Getting closer to the title opportunity isn’t just a goal for Edwards, but it’s something he wants to show his brother Fabian, who is also a fighter. He wants to show that this is what the future can hold for him as well.

“It means a lot to see where we both came from, and to see him follow that I’ve laid out and what we are doing in the sport, it feels good. He’s one of the best fighters in Bellator, I think. It’s a very proud moment for me getting to see my little brother go out there and compete against the best fighters in the world and beat them.”

With family ties, UK ties, and Jamaica ties, Leon Edwards feels a sense of pride knowing that he is able to help motivate and inspire so many people around him.

“It’s very special for me. I was born in Jamaica and we came to the UK to achieve a better life and now to be able to provide for my family and for everybody, it’s a dream come true. I’m already ahead of what I have planned for the future, it’s all coming to fruition for me,” he said. “I’m grateful every day that I get to get up and train, and my brother is there with me. Where we came from there’s a bunch of gangs, so to show the youth back where we came from that there’s other ways to do it, like through martial arts, it’s just a blessing to me.”

As plans for a fight with Masvidal have been put on hold for now, Edwards is targeting a return to the Octagon in late June or early July, and will take the opponent that gets him closer to the title shot. By the end of this year, Leon Edwards envisions himself getting a rematch with Kamaru Usman, this time with the welterweight title on the line.

“I see myself fighting again in July, so I’ll be on a 8-fight winning streak after that and then I’d like to fight Kamaru, I’d love to get that one back as well. I feel I’ll have the world title shot by the end of this year, if not early next year. My plan is to go again in July and go again at the end of the year and then get the rematch for the title.”

Leon Edwards may have gotten more eyes for the backstage altercation, but if all goes according to plan for him, he’s going to use those eyes to grow the attention he gets, and let his fights do the talking for him. As he aims to extend his winning streak, Edwards also aims for a world title shot by the end of 2019 while also looking to avenge his loss to Kamaru Usman, the current welterweight champion.

He doesn’t do it for views or follows, Leon Edwards fights for his country, his family, and his ultimate goal of becoming a champion.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/7/2019.