UFC Welterweight champion Leon Edwards enhanced his reputation further within the brand with a victory over Kamaru Usman at UFC 286. In front of his home supporters in London, the British fighter beat his rival for the second time to defend his crown.
🇬🇧🇯🇲🏆👑 pic.twitter.com/GWnQ3GWWLC— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 20, 2023
Edwards has not lost in the UFC since 2015. In that period, he has had victories over Nate Diaz and Rafael dos Anjos as well as avenging his loss to Usman from eight years ago. He is now one of the most dominant champions in the UFC.
Edwards is currently ranked number four in the pound-for-pound rankings in the sport. One of his aims in 2023 will be to become the first British fighter to reach the top of the standings in the UFC.
Heavyweight champion Jon Jones sits at the top of the list following his victory over Ciryl Gane in his comeback to the sport. Jones is 3/10 in the UFC betting odds to defend his crown against former champion Stipe Miocic later this year.
To climb up the rankings, Edwards will need to keep producing big performances in the Octagon. His latest win over Usman will help as he received a majority decision, but with Jones, Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev all ahead of him, it remains a competitive race for that elusive top spot.
The number two ranked fighter in the UFC Welterweight division is Colby Covington, and he looks like the most obvious challenger to Edwards’ title. As per the CBS report, the former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion defeated Jorge Masvidal on his last appearance in the Octagon.
🇺🇸🦅🏆 #ufc286— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) March 17, 2023
📸- @ufc pic.twitter.com/7Zn6i6Ap4d
Covington was cage-side for Edwards’ victory over Usman. He has been calling out Edwards ever since he defeated Masvidal at UFC 272 – one of the biggest victories of his career so far. His only two defeats over the last seven years have come against Usman.
A clash with Covington is likely to appeal to Edwards, as it gives him the chance to confirm his status as the most dominant Welterweight in the UFC. A win against the number two-rated fighter in his division would also help his pound-for-pound rating.
If Edwards decides there are no longer any worthy challengers in the welterweight division, he could choose to move up in weight. Middleweight champion Alex Pereira would be an obvious target as he holds the division title.
As per the Reuters report, Pereira won his middleweight crown against Israel Adesanya at UFC 281 last November where he stopped his opponent in the fifth round. In what was just his fourth fight in the UFC, he had shown just how dangerous he is in New York.
The Brazilian is set to face Adesanya in a rematch for his title at UFC 287. It’s a fight Edwards is likely to have a strong interest in. Should Pereira come through it with his belt, discussions may begin about the two world champions facing each other.
After a big performance against Usman, Edwards has the luxury of having a lot of options later in 2023 as his stock continues to rise in the UFC.