Leon Edwards made it clear that he’s burying the hatchet with Donald Cerrone after going toe-to-toe with him for five hard rounds.
In the end, it was Edwards who saw his hand raised in the main event of Saturday’s UFC show in Kallang, Singapore. The British fighter picked up a unanimous decision nod, denying Cerrone his 21st UFC win, which would have put “Cowboy” in sole possession of the promotional record for most all-time victories.
There had been plenty of back-and-forth through the media prior to their welterweight clash, with Cerrone criticizing Edwards’s attitude during a promotional tour they did together, and Edwards questioning if the 45-fight veteran was still motivated to be an elite fighter.
But following the win over Cerrone, Edwards had nothing but praise for his UFC Singapore foe.
“The buildup to the fight, I wasn’t talking sh*t, I was just saying he’s an older guy and that’s all I was saying,” Edwards said at the post-fight presser. “He took it personal and said he’s going to be angry and blah, blah, blah, but it is what it is. To go out there and face him in the fifth round, I was just talking to him and said, ‘You said I would slow down in the fifth round and you were gonna pick the pace up in the fifth round. Well, now what you doin’?’ So I was just having fun in the fifth round talking to him.
“After the fight I told him I respected him and he’s a legend of the game and it was an honor for me to fight him.”
The 26-year-old Edwards had never been in a five-round fight before, so it was unknown how he would handle being taken into deeper waters by an experienced opponent like Cerrone. It turned out there wasn’t much to worry about as Edwards went on to win his sixth straight fight, putting him in a tie with interim champion Colby Covington and Santiago Ponzinibbio for the second-longest active winning streak in the UFC welterweight division, trailing only Kamaru Usman (8).
Edwards gave himself a “7-out-of-10” for his performance, docking himself points for not putting Cerrone away inside the distance. However, he was glad that he got to prove his doubters wrong when it came to his cardio.
“My game plan was to come in there and get the finish, but I also wanted to prove that I can go five rounds, so I was kind of fighting in my head on what to do,” Edwards said. “‘Cowboy,’ he’s very tough and to go out there and face such a legend like ‘Cowboy’ and to go in there and defeat him, when [people say] I slow down in the later rounds and to defeat him in the later rounds, it feels good.”
During his in-cage interview, Edwards was asked who he wanted to fight next and he already has another veteran in mind: Jorge Masvidal. The top-10 ranked contender does not currently have a fight booked, something that Edwards is all too aware of.
He’s hoping that he can be Masvidal’s next dance partner and welcome “Gamebred” to his stomping grounds in Birmingham, England.
“At the time, he was No. 6 in the rankings and I was going down in the rankings and everyone else was matched up, so why not take out another old gun?” Edwards said about the call-out. “Masvidal, he’s been around again, a long time, so why not go in there and take him out?
“To bring the UFC back to Birmingham as well, headline billing me and him, have Tom Breese and my brother Fabian on the bill. It would be amazing.”
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