Veteran feels at home now that he’s back in the UFC
Facing a Canadian fighter on his home soil in the deepest, most competitive division in the organization, any fighter experiencing some extra nerves would be well within their rights. Maybe it’s because he’s been through the rigors of the UFC before or that he’s logged more than 50 professional fights around the world over his 14 year career, but whatever the reason, Edwards feels completely at ease with things.
“It’s different, that’s for sure,” said the 34-year-old lightweight Thursday afternoon of his second go-round with the UFC. “It’s a much bigger monster this time aroud, but it’s weird because it’s not as much pressure this time around. I definitely want to keep my job, but I’m excited to fight. This is what I’ve been working for, to get back to. I came back last September – this will be my third fight back – and I just want to go out there and show what I can do.”
While some fighters embrace the role of the heel or even the guy trying to ruin the hometown fighter’s night, Edwards says that’s not for him, and points to conversations with his son as his reason why.
“I’m not a big proponent of the local guy and the foreign guy, the good guy and the bad guy, the hero and the villain; it doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t believe in any of that. Right and wrong, good and bad, it’s all subjective.
“I think it all comes from my son. He was at the gym with me one day and he said,`Daddy, are you fighting?’ and I said, `No, we’re just practicing buddy.’ Or he’s seen fights on TV and he’s like `That’s my dad and that’s the bad guy.’ It’s like, `No, he’s not the bad guy. It’s just a fight.’
As for facing a popular Canadian fighter north of the border, Edwards is sure that while Stout may receive the majority of the support early, the performance they deliver in the cage will matter more to the fans than the fighters’ nationality.
“I think the fans will come out and support him because he’s from Canada, but I’m sure I’ve got some Canadian fans that are rooting for me. I’m sure once the fight starts, and people enjoy what’s going on, they’re just going to enjoy the fight and want to see both guys do well.”
Though this will only be his third fight since returning to the UFC, Edwards has been doing well thus far. He defeated John Gunderson in his first fight back in September 2010, following it up with a submission win over Cody McKenzie at January’s Fight for the Troops event. That victory earned Edwards bonuses for both Submission and Fight of the Night.
In addition to the increased size of bonus checks and attention being paid to the organization by fans, the biggest difference Edwards sees this time around is the depth of competition in the sport as a whole, and especially the UFC’s 155 pound ranks.
“This is the most stacked division in the whole sport. I’m excited about that, and that’s the thing; you know every time out there, it’s going to be a tough fight. There are no easy fights at lightweight.
“There’s very few easy fights at welterweight or at middleweight; middleweights probably the easiest division, but at lightweight, there’s no easy fights at all. Because of that, knowing this one is going to be tough, the next one is going to be tough, and five fights down the road is going to be tough, I think that relieves the pressure.”
It’s unique perspective, but then, Edwards is a unique fighter.Who else do you know that still gets introduced as representing a style they created themselves?
While it was the norm in the early days of the UFC, Edwards and his “thugjitsu” style are a rare breed these days.
What is “thugjitsu,” you ask?
“Just tell people it’s the modern art of the beatdown.”
There is a demonstration Saturday night on Spike TV. You might want to tune in.