Dan Hardy: Leon Edwards motivated and dangerous ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 29 main event


Leon Edwards will head into his main event battle with Tyron Woodley at UFC on ESPN+ 29 in London with a ton of motivation and a lot to gain, according to UFC analyst and former welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy.

Hardy talked to MMA Junkie backstage at the official weigh-ins for UFC 246 in Las Vegas earlier this month and gave his quick-fire take on the main event matchup set for March 21 at The O2. He said he thinks the time is perfect for Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) to step up and show the world just how good he is against former welterweight champion Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) in a five-round main event on home soil.

Hardy said the winner will deserve a title shot in his next matchup.

“Absolutely – I don’t see how not, especially if it’s Leon, because he’s been poised for this opportunity for a long time,” Hardy said.

Edwards is riding an eight-fight winning streak. His most recent three outings saw him claim decision victories over Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Woodley will be making his first in-cage appearance since he lost the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in March 2019.

The pair have been going back and forth on social media, with Edwards appearing to get under Woodley’s skin when he mocked the former champ’s rapping skills. Hardy said the niggling exchanges on social media only serve to add another layer of interest to an already intriguing matchup.

“I think the timing’s right because at this point, they’re both annoyed – there’s needle between the two of them,” he said. “So I just think it’s going to add a bit of spice and a bit of flavor to the fight. I think it’s going to allow Leon to come out of his shell a little bit more and for the fans to see the kind of person and the kind of fighter he really is. He’s not reached his potential yet, and I think this could be the fight that would help him to do that.”

Woodley’s mission is clear: Head into enemy territory, snap Edwards’ winning streak and catapult himself right back into title contention. He also has a history of halting the charge of surging Brits, Hardy said.

“Tyron Woodley’s a very dangerous fighter,” Hardy said. “He’s got that piston of a right hand. He’s got a hell of a wrestling game. We saw him run through Darren Till.”

That result may serve as a warning to Edwards, but Hardy also said the Birmingham man may view it as additional motivation. Both Till and Edwards were battling for top billing when the UFC came to London in March 2019. In the end, it was Till who landed the headline slot against Jorge Masvidal, while Edwards had to content himself with a co-main event bout against Icelandic grappler Nelson.

Edwards achieved the better result of the two Brits that night, and Hardy said the opportunity for “Rocky” to succeed where Till failed against Woodley may serve as additional motivation ahead of the UFC’s return to England.

“I think there’s an advantage for Leon to get this win over Tyron because Darren Till didn’t – because there’s been that animosity between him and Till before,” he said. “I just think there’s a lot to be gained for this for Leon, and I think that’s a motivating factor for him. Leon motivated is dangerous, and I’m excited for him.”