UFC welterweight Leon Edwards has had a tough time getting the top fighters in his division to fight him. They might not have a choice in the matter after this weekend.
Edwards (18-3) extended his winning streak to eight Saturday night, as he defeated former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (29-12) by unanimous decision. The 170-pound bout headlined UFC Fight Night at San Antonio's AT&T Center.
It was an impressive showing by the English welterweight, who has not lost a fight since December 2015 -- to current UFC champion Kamaru Usman. All three judges scored it a blowout victory for Edwards, awarding official scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Immediately after the win, Edwards called for a fight against ranked contender Jorge Masvidal, with whom he got into a brief, backstage altercation at a UFC event in March in London.
"I'm on an eight-fight win streak, in one of the hardest divisions in the sport," Edwards said. "There's a little weasel called Jorge Masvidal. Accept the fight. Let's do it. You're not on my level. Let's make the fight happen."
Masvidal later responded to Edwards' callout in a series of tweets:
So I can be clear I was promised a title shot after I beat askren and I plan on cashing in on it. Don't call me out no more until I get that belt #supernecessary— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) July 21, 2019
Edwards, who was born in Jamaica and fights out of Birmingham, England, has certainly done enough to start making demands. His win streak is the second-longest active run in the division, trailing only Usman's 10 in a row. His eight wins since the start of 2016 is tied for the most in that time frame with Usman and Vicente Luque.
He proved better than dos Anjos in every area of the fight Saturday night. He outstruck the former champion 106 to 88 overall, according to ESPN's FightCenter data, and stuffed all five of his takedown attempts. He opened a deep cut over dos Anjos' left eye with an elbow in the second round, which threatened to stop the fight.
Edwards satisfied with win vs. dos Anjos, calls out Masvidal
Leon Edwards says his execution vs. Rafael dos Anjos was perfect, and calls out Jorge Masvidal for a future fight.
Dos Anjos tried everything he could to turn the tide, but there was simply no doing so. He had some success early on with leg kicks, but Edwards' range and ability to mix things up dictated the standup. Dos Anjos tried hard in the third round to take the fight to the ground, but Edwards used his size and defensive grappling to calmly remain on his feet.
Masvidal hit Edwards at UFC Fight Night in March, after Edwards said something to him as Masvidal was being interviewed backstage. Masvidal's management has said he does not want to fight anyone other than Usman or Conor McGregor at the moment.
Dos Anjos has now lost three of his past four bouts. His only win during that time came in May, when he defeated Kevin Lee fourth-round submission.