UFC top Welterweight Leon Edwards isn’t happy with the result of the UFC Fight Night 187 main event, but that doesn’t mean he will rematch Belal Muhammad. The Briton is instead gunning for a title shot.
On Saturday, Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) headlined against Belal Muhammad. It was Edwards’ first fight in more than 600 days. The bout was ruled a no-contest after an errant Edwards finger entered the eye of Muhammad (18-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and rendered him unable to continue.
The fight-ending foul happened at the start of the second round as Edwards threw a kick with his hand extended just as Muhammad stepped towards him, which saw his finger jab directly into the eye. Muhammad fell to the ground in agonizing pain as he screamed out loud while holding onto his eye.
It didn’t take long for the ringside physician to come into the cage to check on Muhammad, who already had a noticeable welt forming under his eye. When he was unable to even open his eyes to let the doctor check him out, referee Herb Dean called a stop to the contest.
The end came at just 18 seconds into the second round with Herb declaring a no-decision due to an accidental foul. Afterwards, the fighters embraced while acknowledging that Edwards didn’t intentionally poke Muhammad in the eye but the result leaves both welterweights in limbo.
Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards on what’s next for him
With designs to earn a victory and then move on to the challenge for the welterweight title, Edwards was crushed by the outcome on Saturday night in the UFC Vegas 21 main event. Rocky spoke to the media after the fight and said he is still rooting for the title shot.
“I thought it was a punch,” Edwards said at the post-fight news conference. “The combination I was throwing was a cross-head kick. As I threw the cross, he kind of stepped in to close the distance. I saw him grab his eye and turn around. I thought it was a punch. I wish Belal nothing but a full recovery. It was an accident. I didn’t mean it. So I wish him a full recovery.”
Despite the long layoff, Edwards said he didn’t feel hindered by inactivity. His most recent fight came against Rafael dos Anjos in July 2019 and was a unanimous decision win.
“I felt great out there,” he said. “I know everyone was talking about ring rust and ‘It’s been 600 days. How did you feel?’ I felt good. I had him in the first round. Going into the second round, I was just getting the momentum. I’d have liked to show more. It was just a sad thing.”
Before UFC Fight Night 187, UFC president Dana White said Leon would get a title shot with an impressive victory over Muhammad. Although the fight ended in a no contest, Edwards thinks the next crack at gold should still be his.
“I believe a title shot should be next,” he said. “I’ve rebuilt myself back up since last competing against (Kamaru) Usman. I was on an eight-fight winning streak. Tonight was going to be nine. The writing was on the wall. I was winning the fight. I believe I should be next at the title shot. I’ve built myself back up. That’s what should be next, I think.”
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