Edwards Looking to Get Back on Track against Muhammad at UFC Vegas 21

In a headlining welterweight bout, Leon Edwards will face Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 21 this weekend.

Updated: March 11, 2021 • 4:10 PM ET

Las Vegas Strip - Wikimedia Commons

A welterweight fight between No. 3 ranked Leon Edwards and No. 13 Belal Muhammad will headline UFC Vegas 21 this Saturday at the Apex in Las Vegas.

Edwards was expected to face rising prospect Khamzat Chimaev this weekend after the bout had been cancelled on two previous occasions. After being booked a third time, complications from COVID-19 forced Chimaev to withdraw from the fight. Hence, Muhammad has stepped in, and Edwards finally has an opponent after a rough 2020.

Edwards has not fought since July 2019, but not as a result of reasons necessarily under his control. The UFC booked him for a headlining fight in London with former champion Tyron Woodley last March, but COVID-19 restrictions forced him to withdraw from the bout once the fight was moved to the United States. Edwards’ withdrawal eventually led to the event being cancelled completely.

The UFC worked to find Edwards a new opponent, and in stepped Chimaev. However, now that the bout has been canceled for a third time, it seems like the matchup may not be meant to be. Muhammad will step in and provide a tough challenge for Edwards, who could clamor for a title shot with a win.

Edwards’s last loss came in 2015 by unanimous decision to current champion Kamaru Usman. Since that loss, Edwards has won eight straight fights with key wins over Vicente Luque, Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson and Rafael dos Anjos. A win on Saturday could have many in the MMA world calling for a rematch with Usman, but Edwards doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“I’m sure that I am willing to fight anybody,” Edwards said via MMA Fighting. “Khamzat for example, there’s no reason for me to fight him. He’s a new guy in the UFC. Up and coming. I didn’t need to fight him, but I stepped up and I was willing to fight him. Now Belal Muhammad. I didn’t need to fight him either. I could have waited out and waited for one of these top guys. I’m not in the waiting game. I’m a young man and I need to be active.

“So yeah, I think all this showing the UFC I am willing to compete, willing to fight any of these guys. It doesn’t matter who’s first or who’s next. If I believe I am No. 1, then who gives a sh*t who’s next? That’s it really. Showing the UFC I am willing to go and hopefully put me in the good books and get me to where I want to get to.”

Meanwhile, Muhammad has won four straight fights, most recently looking impressive in a unanimous decision win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258 last month. The 32-year-old has fought in the UFC since 2016, but he’s still looking for a marquee win that Edwards would represent despite being 9-3 in the promotion.

Muhammad believes Edwards has made a mistake accepting a fight with him.

“It wasn’t like he was forced to say yeah, but he said no to all these other guys thinking that they weren’t worth it,” Muhammad said via MMA Fighting. “But now, you’re going to fight the hardest guy on the roster, and it’s for sure not worth it for you.

“This is the only way it would have happened. The higher guys, they all know how good I am, so they can use that excuse that the number’s not too high against the name. It’s like these guys forget why we’re in this game. We’re in it to fight, we’re not in it to sit back and play the business role. This is the fight. What’s in your contract. Are you here to fight?”

Muhammad knows what he is up against in Edwards and expects a great fight.

“This is a guy that won eight of his last nine fights, and a guy who won eight fights,” Muhammad said. “In the old UFC days, this is the frickin’ main event.”

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST

Light heavyweight bout - No. 11 Misha Cirkunov vs. No. 13 Ryan Spann

Featherweight bout - No. 9 Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker

Bantamweight bout - Jonathan Martinez vs. Davey Grant

Flyweight bout - Manel Kape vs. Matheus Nicolau

Middleweight bout - Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart

 

Prelims on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. EST

Women’s strawweight bout - No. 12 Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder

Featherweight bout - Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo

Bantamweight bout - Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez

Lightweight bout - Nasrat Haqparast vs. Rafa Garcia

Women’s flyweight bout - Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich

Women’s strawweight bout - Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey

Welterweight bout - Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt

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