Three keys to victory for Leon Edwards against underdog Belal Muhammad
Leon Edwards makes his long-overdue return to the UFC Octagon on Saturday at UFC Vegas 21. Edwards was supposed to fight Khamzat Chimaev in a highly anticipated bout, but due to Covid complications, Chimaev was forced to back out, and Belal Muhammad, who is riding a four-fight win streak stepped in to replace him. Edwards has quite the win streak of his own, as he has won his last eight contests, most recently in July 2019 against Rafael dos Anjos.
Here are his three keys to victory on Saturday night.
Edwards arguably has some of the most lethal elbow strikes in all of the UFC. In his most recent fight against dos Anjos, he was able to perfectly time his elbows and cut dos Anjos open throughout the fight. Edwards likes to slip in and throw his elbows after a clinch, as it is hard for his opponents to read it after a break. Edwards threw these strikes both against dos Anjos and against Gunner Nelson in March 2019 where he scored a knockdown in round two with it.
Edwards has been out of action since July 2019 and has a lot of pressure coming into this fight. With a win, UFC president Dana White promised that Edwards would get a shot at UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. His opponent doesn’t have much to lose and will likely come out aggressive, wanting to take that title shot from him. If Edwards can keep the fight at a distance and strike for most of the fight he should win, as he has some of the most effective and technical striking in all of the UFC.
Avoid the takedown
It’s not that Edwards is an amateur on the ground, he is actually quite good, but Muhammad has proven to be great in that aspect. Muhammad won both of his last fights by decision, and in the final round of each of those fights he had control on the ground after taking his opponents’ back. If Edwards is taken down or gives up his back, it could cause him some trouble, as Muhammad could wear him out on the ground like he has done to his last few opponents with his aggressive style. The threat of his wrestling aids that as well.