Leon Edwards wants to be next in line for a shot at Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title with a win over Nate Diaz next month.
The British welterweight contender is ranked at number 3, behind Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns whom Usman has already stopped in title fights.
Edwards and Usman have fought once before, in a prelim bout at UFC on Fox 17 in late 2015 which the current champion won by a decision.
But since then, Edwards has looked unstoppable, and many fans believe he is the only man who can end Usman’s reign at the top of the 170 lb division.
Speaking with Mirror Fighting as part of the launch of his ‘UFC – OnSide Youth Mentoring Program’ to help troubled youth in the UK, Edwards discussed why he believes that he is next in line for a shot at the belt after his June 12 bout with Diaz.
“I believe I am the number one contender right now,” he said, when asked if a win over superstar Diaz would earn him a shot at the gold.
“My body of work has proven that, but after I go out there and beat Nate Diaz in the way I picture I will I can’t see where the UFC would go next.
“I will be a world champion by the end of 2021, that’s what I see in my head and that’s what’s going to happen.
“Nate is going to be coming out looking for a war, like he does in all of his fights, and I don’t think he’s going to look to get me to the ground looking for submissions.
“He’s going to pressure me from the get-go like when he fought Pettis, he’ll try to put me on my back foot, but I want to come out victorious and I’ll meet him in the middle.”
Edwards, who is of Jamaican origin and grew up in Birmingham, wants to share his success with brother Fabian, who fights in the Bellator Middleweight division and is ranked number five in the world.
The duo have spoken about a goal of sitting around the family dinner table with a UFC belt and a Bellator belt in the middle.
But that plan took a blow last week, as Fabian lost a tight decision to the undefeated Austin Vaderford at Bellator 259.
“We both want to have the biggest straps in MMA to bring back to our mum,” he said. “That’s a goal that’s going to be achieved and I can’t wait for it.
“His fight was good, he’s only been doing MMA for six years and he’s fighting at such a high level, he’s very young in the sport and I think he gave a really good account of himself.
“He made a few mistakes here and there that probably cost him to lose the fight but he will live learn and come back, so I feel by next year he’ll be in the title picture and be competing for the Bellator world championship.”
The UFC – OnSide Youth Mentoring Program will be led by former UFC light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa, UFC welterweight Leon Edwards, and UFC middleweight Darren Till.
Each athlete will lead a martial arts- focused mentoring program as part of the after-school health and wellness curriculum at three OnSide Youth Zones across the UK.