Leon Edwards says UFC 278 perfect time to fight Kamaru Usman: ‘His body is breaking down’

Leon Edwards thinks his recent inactivity may pay dividends against Kamaru Usman.

Edwards (19-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) gets his long-awaited title shot against welterweight champion Usman in Saturday’s UFC 278 headliner at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Edwards has only competed twice and had numerous fights canceled. His UFC Fight Night 187 headliner against Belal Muhammad was cut short when an accidental eye poke rendered Muhammad unable to continue early in Round 2. He then battered Nate Diaz for five rounds at UFC 263 and survived a late scare.

Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) has doubled up on Edwards’ activity, but the Brit thinks all that cage time will likely have an impact on the champion.

“All I’ve been doing is training,” Edwards told CBS Sports. “The Khamzat Chimaev fight (that was canceled three times), for example, that’s three camps. I’ve done many camps and improved leaps and bounds. Now is the perfect time for us to fight. I think those years, looking back on it now, were blessings in disguise. It gave me time to hone my skills and polish what I needed to polish, while he’s competed – but he’s also been in wars. His body is breaking down, and I think now is the perfect time.”

Despite Usman defending his title four times in 16 months, Edwards won’t bank on a worn-out version of “The Nigerian Nightmare” – even if it’s what he thinks is likely the case.

“I’m not going in there thinking that,” Edwards said. “I’m going in prepared for the so-called pound-for-pound best. I am going in there fully focused on him coming in there to be the best version of himself. I think that’s how I’m approaching it.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.