Nothing seems to go right for Leon Edwards. After the very high-profile matchup with Khamzat Chimaev fell apart three times, Belal Muhammad stepped up on short notice to make sure that Edwards didn’t have to get served with another dose of disappointment for the fourth time in a row.
After all of this time and the extended layoff, Edwards was finally going to make his long-awaited return to competition. After putting down an eight-fight win streak in one of the most talent-rich divisions in the sport, and establishing a whole lot of momentum before being shelved, Edwards was set to pick up where he left off.
Things started great, with no signs of ring rust in sight. Edwards was as light on his feet as usual, relaxed and demonstrating his sharp technique. Pressuring the pressure fighter and leading the dance from the jump. Switching stances, feints galore, a busy fighter keeping busy. Using his cardio and speedy boxing to establish control right away. In the first round he landed a beautiful head kick that put Muhammad on wobbly legs, he continued to mix up the striking and the grappling and it seemed as though the writing was on the wall.
That is until the second round came along and it all went downhill in an instant when mid-body kick, Edwards extended left hand led to a severe eye that leads to the bout being called to half with Muhammad audibly wincing in agony because of the inadvertent damage caused. The contest was officially stopped 18 seconds into the second round and declared a no contest. Giving the highly anticipated return as disappointing of an ending as possible.
— UFC (@ufc) March 14, 2021
It’s been an incredibly frustrating road for Edwards, it isn’t very often we see a fighter put together such an impressive winning streak only for the momentum and opportunities to dwindle as time goes on. Usually, fighters that can go on such a run get to move onto major opportunities, whereas Edwards seems to be going backward.
However, all is not lost. It’s a small sample size to work with, but Edwards demonstrated that he showed up to this fight very well prepared. He physically looked in as good of shape as we’ve ever seen him, and he didn’t seem to miss a beat in terms of his performance. It’s just another bump in the road, in the clunky journey of Edwards and the welterweight title.
After the fight on the post-fight show, Edwards was quoted as saying he feels he is deserving of a title shot. Not surprisingly, many of the fans on social media seem to think this idea is ridiculous, and with all due respect to Edwards, the fans may not be wrong. In a division that already has its fair share of viable contenders waiting in the wings, getting a title show off of a no-contest just isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good one looked up until the fight-ending mistake.
After 602 days away, heartbreak.
— UFC (@ufc) March 14, 2021
After all of those wins, the highest-profile fight of his career being canceled three times, and his triumphed return ending in an anticlimactic fashion, it’s back to the drawing board for Edwards. But if he can stop clamoring for a title shot, trust the process, and get back in there as soon as possible to redeem himself. The title shot is coming, it’s been very elusive up until now, but despite the tough road, Edwards is closing in.