Will Edwards raise his game for UFC 278 duel with Usman?

Leon Edwards faces the last man to defeat him in the ring when he squares off against Karamu Usman in August at UFC 278. The two men last duelled it out in 2015 at UFC on Fox 17 as part of the preliminary card as the Nigerian-American secured a victory on a unanimous points decision. On that occasion, Usman was able to control the bout using a combination of attacks to keep the Brit off balance and then drove home his advantage in the final round with a takedown and a series of blows to ensure that he was able to edge out his rival for the win.

It was a humbling experience for Edwards, but he has been a different fighter since his defeat seven years ago. The 30-year-old enters the contest at UFC 278 with a 10-fight unbeaten run. However, he is still considered the underdog in the odds for the fight with a leading betting site at 11/5 to beat Usman. Edwards will have to raise the standard of his game, but there have been plenty of words between the duo to suggest that the Brit is ready to do whatever it takes to topple Usman and break his longstanding streak of wins.

Since his defeat, Edwards has reeled off an impressive array of performances over the last seven years. He made a breakthrough by defeating Donald Cerrone in 2017 with a fine display to work his way to a unanimous points decision. Edwards broke through the American’s defences in the first round of the bout, cutting his right eye. The early blow unsettled Cerrone and he was unable to regain his composure. He battled hard against the Brit, but Edwards controlled the fight in the remaining two rounds, avoiding a submission or knockout to secure the victory (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).

Edwards’ next major bout in a headline fight came against Rafael dos Anjos. The Brit took his time to break down the defences of the Brazilian-American and had to be stout in his own guard to fend off an onslaught in the opening. However, his patience was rewarded when he managed to find room to catch dos Anjos’ right eye, causing a bleed. The blow allowed Edwards to take command of the contest and he made it count with a series of shots in the third and fourth round before seeing off a late surge in the fifth, winning by a unanimous points decision yet again.

The 30-year-old might have put in his best performance in his last outing against Nate Diaz. He was unstoppable in the first four rounds, repeatedly exposing Diaz with his speed and power. Edwards was in complete control and bludgeoned his opponent, but did not quite get the knockout blow to ease over the line. As a result, Diaz had a free shot in the fifth round to go for the knockout to steal the win and rocked Edwards with a series of blows, but the Brit held firm to avoid a defeat, taking the contest on points. It was a warning that although his form has been impressive, he will have to take his game to the next level to beat Usman.

Severe MMA Staff