Leon Edwards Shocks The World: What's Next For The New Welterweight Champ?

Leon Edwards Shocks The World: What's Next For The New Welterweight Champ?
Image ©Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
✍️ Written by
Frank Weber
🗓 Updated
May 19th 2023

What a privilege it is to be able to watch the UFC. From the outside, it looks like two athletes standing in a cage beating the breaks off of each other. But once you understand what you’re really witnessing, you realize it’s a whole lot more.

You realize it’s a lesson in humility. A lesson in bravery. And most important of all, a lesson in persistence. You might think I’m over-romanticizing bloodsport, but if you were lucky enough to catch last night's pay-per-view, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

Up until the last minute of the very last fight, UFC 278 was mediocre at best. There were some good fights, and some weird ones (Rockhold vs Costa), but the card was nothing but forgettable. Everything changed though in the very last minute, of the very last round, of the very last fight.

Kamaru Usman was literally a minute away from defending his Welterweight title, which would have most certainly propelled him into the GOAT discussion. Some of the Best Online Sports Betting Sites had him at -10,000 to win coming into that final round, practically saying that his opponent, Leon Edwards, could do nothing about what was to come. Well, Edwards took exception to that.

With a minute left, Edwards set up a beautiful head kick that landed perfectly, knocking the #1 pound-for-pound Usman to the mat in one fell swoop. Usman had fallen. A new champ was crowned.

But this wasn’t your stereotypical underdog story. This wasn’t just a fighter that was down a few rounds that came back to win–no, this was a fighter that was ignored time and time again, only to come out and prove what they are really worth.

Edwards saw the short end of the stick for a majority of his UFC career up until this point–which is hard to believe because of his six (now seven) fight win-streak. Yet, an early classification of “unmarketable” by the big brass at the UFC headquarters made life a living hell for Edwards–but he didn’t complain. He just continued to win, until it was impossible to deny him his title shot.

And once he got it, he made the most of it–and now look at what happened.

So, what’s next for the new champ?

The most logical answer would be a rematch with Usman. However, it’ll take Usman at least six months to recover from that KO (due to medical suspension) so unless Edwards wants to wait until early 2023, that might not be the direction things go. Welterweight contender and rocketship Khamzat Chimaev will fight Nate Diaz in September, so if Khamzat wins he’ll likely be next-in-line for a title shot. It also helps that Chimaev and Edwards have some history, having been booked against each other three times in the past, but the fight never came to fruition.

Speaking of history, Edwards also has some beef with fellow Welterweight Jorge Masvidal, who was just booked to fight Gilbert Burns in December. If Masvidal manages to win there, that is also another possibility for the newly minted king.

All that’s for certain though is the Welterweight division is in new hands–and maybe even better hands–than it was before. “The belt belongs to nobody,” Edwards said in his post-fight interview, and he did nothing but prove that to be true.

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