Usman last defended his belt in November 2021 at UFC 268 when he defeated his rival Colby Covington via unanimous decision. It was “The Nigerian Nightmare’s” fifth successful title defense since taking the 170-pound belt from Tyron Woodley back in 2019.
And for his sixth trip to the Octagon as champion, Usman will rematch Leon Edwards.
TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter spoke with the UFC president on January 13, 2022, and White confirmed “Rocky” will get the next shot. “When I asked if Leon Edwards is next in line to fight for the welterweight championship, Dana White’s reply was ‘100%’,” Bronsteter tweeted.
Edwards is currently ranked No. 3 in the UFC’s official rankings and is riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak. The last loss the Englishman suffered was at the hands of Usman when they fought in the UFC in 2015. The Nigerian Nightmare defeated Edwards via unanimous decision.
Besides his fight with Belal Muhammad being declared a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke, Edwards has won every fight since then, beating the likes of Nate Diaz, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and Gunnar Nelson.
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Edwards Elected to Wait for a Title Shot After Jorge Masvidal Pulled Out of Their Fight
Rocky was scheduled to fight in December 2021 against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 269. A few weeks before the fight, however, Masvidal pulled out of the fight with an injury. There were calls by fans for Edwards to stay on the card and fight rising star Khamzat Chimaev, however Rocky chose to remove himself from the pay-per-view instead of accepting a replacement.
The decision paid off for Rocky as he now finds himself fighting for the title next. A date or venue has yet to be shared.
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Usman’s Coach Trevor Wittman Wants the Edwards Fight As Well
The Nigerian Nightmares trainer Trevor Wittman is all for The Nigerian Nightmare fighting Rocky next. In an interview with MMA Junkie last month, Wittman shared that although Usman and Edwards have been locked inside a cage together before, he wasn’t around. So, it’ll be a new challenge for Wittman and Usman to take on together.
“I think (we want) a new challenge,” Wittman said via the outlet. “Leon is a new challenge to me. That was so long ago, and I wasn’t his coach. I just want the best. As a coach, you want the best challenges. We want to go out there and make sure that we’re not hesitating and making different decisions and then seeing if we can change game plans up in fights. That’s a cool thing, too, fighting differently than you did the first time when you fought him. So that’s always a cool challenge for me as a coach. I’m open to anything. At this level, we want the best. That’s it.”