Leon Edwards targets Tyron Woodley’s ego, then ‘perfect revenge’ against Kamaru Usman

“\n\t\t\n\t\t\tif(typeof(jQuery)==\”function\”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};\n\t\t\t\tjwplayer(‘jwplayer_QtJs7W5p_FLu19iir_div’).setup(\n\t\t\t\t{\”advertising\”:{\”admessage\”:\”This video will resume in xx seconds\”,\”bids\”:{\”bidders\”:[{\”id\”:\”210076\”,\”name\”:\”SpotX\”},{\”id\”:\”jrkl5-k9ohg\”,\”type\”:\”OpenRTB\”,\”name\”:\”Telaria\”,\”pubid\”:\”jrkl5\”},{\”id\”:\”65254\”,\”type\”:\”OpenRTB\”,\”name\”:\”EMX\”,\”pubid\”:\”1081\”},{\”id\”:\”2349013\”,\”type\”:\”OpenRTB\”,\”name\”:\”PubMatic\”,\”pubid\”:\”158095\”}],\”settings\”:{\”buckets\”:[{\”min\”:8,\”max\”:20,\”increment\”:0.25},{\”min\”:20,\”max\”:50,\”increment\”:0.5}],\”mediationLayerAdServer\”:\”dfp\”,\”floorPriceCents\”:25}},\”client\”:\”googima\”,\”cuetext\”:\”Advertisement\”,\”schedule\”:[{\”offset\”:\”pre\”,\”type\”:\”linear\”,\”tag\”:\”%%VAST_TAG%%\”}],\”skipmessage\”:\”Skip ad in xx seconds\”,\”vpaid_mode\”:\”insecure\”,\”vast_load_timeout\”:15000,\”load_video_timeout\”:15000,\”request_timeout\”:10000,\”max_redirects\”:8,\”adscheduleid\”:\”00000000\”},\”autoPause\”:{\”viewability\”:\”true\”},\”playlist\”:\”https:\\\/\\\/content.jwplatform.com\\\/feeds\\\/QtJs7W5p.json\”,\”ph\”:2}\n\t\t\t);\n\t\t\n\t”sdpJWEmbed.start();

LONDON – Welterweight contender Leon Edwards is getting main event shine for the second time in his career, but his appearance at UFC on ESPN+ 29 will be special as he’s set for action on home soil.

Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) will take on former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who will make his first appearance since losing his title to Kamaru Usman over a year ago. Despite a disappointing display from “The Chosen One” that night, Edwards expects to see Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) back to his best for their clash March 14 at The O2.

“I’m prepping for the one that beat Robbie Lawler,” Edwards told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “I want that Tyron. I want the best version of himself. I believe I am No. 1, so I believe I will beat him, even on his best day. So that’s the one I’m prepping for in my camp, and that’s the one I’m aiming to fight. I will be world champion, and he’s just another guy that’s in my way, and another guy to get an ass whipping.”

Edwards has been prepping for the fight at his usual home at Team Renegade in Birmingham, England, where he shares the mats with a host of talented U.K. fighters, including his brother, Bellator middleweight Fabian Edwards, and UFC middleweight Tom Breese. But it was another of Leon’s teammates who gave the gym an additional boost when news broke that Jai Herbert had been drafted in to replace the injured Stevie Ray and would make his UFC debut on the same card in London.

“To have my teammate join me on the card, as well, it’s amazing,” Edwards said. “He was the lightweight champion for Cage Warriors, (and) he’s taking on Marc Diakiese. That’s another big fight for the gym. We’ve got Tom Breese, as well. He’s fighting in February, so the gym is buzzing. This is January, right, so the gym is busy, and all the fighters are in, preparing for fights. It’s a great environment in Birmingham for martial arts and for the fighters.”

Edwards has made his way up the welterweight rankings the old-fashioned way – by winning fights – and says he stands on the cusp of a shot at the welterweight title. According to “Rocky,” victory over Woodley should do it.

“I believe after this fight I will fight for the world title after beating Woodley,” he said. “It’s a big fight for me. He’s considered one of the best of all time, and to go out there, to perform and beat him like I want to beat him, that’s going to put my name right in the hat to be a world champion, and I will fight for the world title this year.”

That could potentially put him in line to face the last man to defeat him. Kamaru Usman outpointed Edwards at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015, but Edwards hasn’t lost since and says that he would love nothing more than to face Usman for the title after defeating Woodley.

“It’s like the perfect revenge, right? He’s the last guy to beat me, four or five years ago. To go out there and to defeat him for the world title, and to get that win back, that’s like the perfect scenario for me,” Edwards said. “For him to still hold the world title this summer or later this year, and to defeat him, that’s the perfect dream for me, and I believe it will happen. This Leon would kill that Leon from back then, so I am looking forward to going out there, getting my revenge and securing the world title”

Another man Edwards has his sights on is the other big player at the sharp end of the welterweight division, Jorge Masvidal. The Brit found himself the unwitting recipient of the now-infamous “three piece and a soda” backstage in London last year and says that, at some point in his journey, he wants to face “Gamebred” again.

“Cage or no cage, me getting my hands on him is my main goal,” Edwards said as he laughed. “I know they’re mentioning putting Masvidal in for the title in March. Both fights have got a story behind it, right? Usman’s the last guy to beat me, Masvidal (because of) what happened in London, so they’ve both got a great selling point for a big fight on a big pay-per-view. Either way, each fight is big money.”

There’s a sellable angle to Edwards’ upcoming bout with Woodley, too, thanks to Edwards’ decision to poke fun at Woodley’s rapping skills. His social media jabs weren’t well received by the former champion, as Edwards explained.

“He blocked me on Instagram!” Edwards said. “He went in my DMs and called me names and said he’d knock me out and (expletive). Then he blocked me! For me, it’s all banter. I’m having fun with it. It’s weird, right? You talk about his fighting career, and he doesn’t get angry. But you talk about his rap music, he goes mad! But his music is shit, right? He’t not a very good rapper. It’s funny.”

Edwards is even considering delivering a final dig to Woodley’s ego just moments before they fight by walking out to one of his opponent’s rap tracks.

“I’m thinking about it,” Edwards said. “If I do it, I’ll probably mix it in with another song, so it’ll probably start with his song, then put my one on. I don’t think I can listen to that all the way to the octagon – his music is crap. I’ll probably put some headphones on if I do it, but it’d be funny if I did do it.”