In the UFC 278 headliner, Edwards will have his long-awaited shot at gold having amassed a 10-fight unbeaten streak since his 2015 defeat to Usman. With both men on fine runs since that collision and having evolved to no end on their respective undefeated streaks, they’ll run it back across five rounds in Utah.
While Usman will be targeting the sixth successful defense of the title that he won from Tyron Woodley in 2019, Edwards will be looking to secure his place in history as the United Kingdom’s second champion on MMA’s biggest stage.
And the one and only Brit to secure a UFC crowning is backing “Rocky” to join him in the champions’ club come August 20.
Bisping: Edwards Is Usman’s Toughest Test
During BT Sport’s UFC 278 Preview Show, Bisping, who held the 185-pound title for just north of a year after dethroning Luke Rockhold in 2016, assessed his countryman’s chances of unseating the dominant reigning welterweight champ this Saturday.
Citing the striking success Colby Covington found in his pair of unsuccessful title challenges, “The Count” insisted that Edwards will have opportunities on the feet against Usman. Bisping also pointed to Edwards’ headliner opposite Belal Muhammad as evidence that “Rocky” can dictate range and avoid the Nigerian’s grappling entries.
“This is a tough fight for both men… These are the two best welterweights on the planet,” Bisping said. “Edwards, come on, the man’s pretty much perfect on the feet… I do think Leon Edwards is a completely different animal to Masvidal. He’s different from Colby Covington. Listen, if Covington, as the fight progressed, was having success on the feet, if you don’t think Leon Edwards is gonna have success on the feet, you’re out of your mind.
“Look at the fight that Leon had with Belal Muhammad… Up until then (the no contest), he was doing well. He was controlling the range, stopping the takedowns, avoiding the clinch… If he can do that to Belal, I’m telling you, the forecast is bright and sunny, just like the weather in England is right now,” Bisping added.
After naming Edwards as the highest-level striker Usman will have faced, Bisping backed his fellow Brit to emerge victorious and with the welterweight belt in his possession at UFC 278.
“He’s the best striker Usman has come up against… Leon is pretty much perfect on the feet,” Bisping stated. “And he’s very big… He’s a big guy, he understands striking, and I think — yes, I do think this is probably the toughest test (for Usman).
“I’ve got Leon Edwards. And new. I really do. I just think he’s gonna keep him at range. He has the reach advantage. He has the footwork advantage. He’s gonna play a patient game, and I just keep coming back to that fight with Belal Muhammad,” Bisping continued. “Look what he did to Vicente Luque. Didn’t get any of that game going against Leon.”
Do you agree with Michael Bisping? Does Leon Edwards have what it takes to leave Utah with the welterweight gold?