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Leon Edwards seeks ‘perfect fairytale’ rematch with Kamaru Usman after UFC on ESPN 4

nt" SAN ANTONIO – Leon Edwards plans to outclass Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 4. And if that happens, Edwards said either a grudge match with Jorge Masvidal or a title shot against Kamaru Usman has to be next. Edwards (17-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) brings a seven-fight...

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SAN ANTONIO – Leon Edwards plans to outclass Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 4. And if that happens, Edwards said either a grudge match with Jorge Masvidal or a title shot against Kamaru Usman has to be next.

Edwards (17-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) brings a seven-fight winning streak into Saturday’s headliner with former UFC lightweight champ dos Anjos (29-11 MMA, 18-9 UFC). The British welterweight contender has been nothing but successful over the past few years, and he sees his next fight as the one that will elevate him over the hump.

Although Edwards thought his streak, and past two wins in particular against Donald Cerrone and Gunnar Nelson, should have earned him a title shot or title eliminator, he sees the upside in the matchup with dos Anjos.

“This is a fight now to prove my case I’m one of the best fighters in the world,” Edwards told MMA Junkie on Wednesday at open workouts. “Beat a former world champion, he’s ranked No. 3 (in the UFC rankings) and to go out there and put on a performance, I’m thinking I’m going to. I know after this I deserve a title shot or at least the No. 1 contender.”

In many other weight classes, Edwards’ streak would’ve already set up a title opportunity. Welterweight is among the deepest in the UFC currently, though, with the likes of Masvidal (34-13 MMA, 11-6 UFC), Colby Covington (14-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and ex-champ Tyron Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) all having a claim to challenge Usman (15-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) for the strap.

Edwards called Covington “not relevant” and said he’s not buying Masvidal as a contender. “Gamebred” has staked his claim with two vicious knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren this year, but Edwards isn’t impressed with the man he got into a memorable backstage altercation with following the Till fight in March.

“I don’t believe (Masvidal is a contender),” Edwards said. “He was on a two-fight losing streak. Before that he was about to get cut, so I don’t understand where this title shot talk came from. I’m on a seven-fight win streak, soon to be eight, and I feel my record speaks for itself. I deserve it next.

“That fight (with Masvidal) will happen. I believe the UFC are going to try to push that fight next for the No. 1 contender spot. That’s the cherry on top for me. I’ll smoke him and get onto Usman.”

An opportunity to challenge Usman for the belt would be particularly special for Edwards. The reigning titleholder was the last man to hand Edwards a loss, a unanimous decision at in December 2015.

Neither man has lost since that encounter, and getting the chance to avenge the loss and take the title would be something special, Edwards said.

“The story is already made for me and Usman,” Edwards said. “It’s the perfect scenario. He’s the last guy to beat me three or four years ago. I feel it’s the perfect story. Since that to win everything, beat everything, then get that rematch and beat him for the world title, that’s like a perfect fairytale story. So, why not?”

First, however, Edwards must get past dos Anjos, whom he doesn’t seem overly concerned about but has respect for.

“He’s a veteran of the game, but I feel I am way better,” Edwards said. “I am leaps above him, and I’m young. I’m 27 years old. I haven’t been through as much damage as he’s took. He’s been through some wars in his career, and I’m young and coming up. I’m not even in my prime yet. I feel good about it.”

UFC on ESPN 4 takes place Saturday at AT&T Center in San Antonio. The entire card airs on ESPN.

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC Schedule.

Bellator’s Scott Coker reveals time frame, location for MacDonald vs. Lima grand prix final

The end is in sight for the Bellator welterweight grand prix. According to Bellator president Scott Coker, the promotion has a time frame and location in mind for the tournament final between champion Rory MacDonald and former champ Douglas Lima. At a media day held Wednesday in Burbank, Calif.,...

The end is in sight for the Bellator welterweight grand prix.

According to Bellator president Scott Coker, the promotion has a time frame and location in mind for the tournament final between champion Rory MacDonald and former champ Douglas Lima.

At a media day held Wednesday in Burbank, Calif., Coker told reporters, including MMA Junkie, that the bout will be happening in late October at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. No specific date was given.

“Rory was a little bit injured,” Coker said. “He needed another 30 days of rest, which we gave him. So, he’s ready to go. That fight will happen at the end of October. Him and Lima will get it on up in the Mohegan Sun.”

Bellator’s original plan was to have MacDonald (21-5-1 MMA, 3-1-1 BMMA) and Lima (31-7 MMA, 13-3 BMMA) square off in September. However, following his victory over Neiman Gracie in the Bellator 222 headliner in June, MacDonald made it clear he would need more time.

The upcoming MacDonald-Lima fight will be a rematch of their Bellator 192 bout, which took place in January 2018. It was MacDonald who got the best of their first meeting, as he defeated the Brazilian via unanimous decision to claim the title.

Both men had to advance past back-to-back opponents to earn a shot at the $1 million prize in the 170-pound grand prix final. In the opening round, MacDonald drew with Jon Fitch and retained his title and automatically advanced to the next round. In his first tournament bout, Lima defeated Andrey Koreshkov for the second time when he choked out the former champ in the fifth round.

While MacDonald defeated Gracie in his second outing, Lima knocked out previously unbeaten Michael Page in highlight-reel fashion.

For more on upcoming Bellator events, check out the MMA schedule.

Dual champ Ryan Bader plans to beat Cheick Kongo at Bellator 226, then stay at 205 for a while

BURBANK, Calif. –Ryan Bader finds himself in possession of two belts these days as the Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight champion. Three, if you want to include the one he was awarded for winning the heavyweight grand prix tournament in January. Bader (27-5 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) finds himself in...

BURBANK, Calif. –Ryan Bader finds himself in possession of two belts these days as the Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight champion. Three, if you want to include the one he was awarded for winning the heavyweight grand prix tournament in January.

Bader (27-5 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) finds himself in a spot only a handful of other competitors in mixed martial arts history have faced: How to go about defending belts in both weight classes.

For the short-term, the answer is he’s staying at heavyweight as Bader will defend that championship against Cheick Kongo in the main event of Bellator 226 on Sept. 7.

“We didn’t know if it was going to be 205 or heavyweight. They wanted the heavyweight belt defended, so here we are,” Bader said at Wednesday’s Bellator media day.

After that? Bader wants to go back down to light heavyweight and defend that title twice before he thinks of going back up to heavyweight again.

“They wanted the heavyweight belt to be defended,” Bader said, “And from my understanding, after this fight, I’ll go back down and maybe defend the light heavyweight belt twice, defend it once, defend it again, and then go back up, kind of bounce around.”

Why twice? Well, Bader hasn’t needed to make the cut down to 205 since his last defense against Linton Vassell nearly two years ago.

Bader is 36 and not getting any younger, so if he’s going to return to 205 after two years away, he wants to stay close to that weight afterwards rather than have to yo-yo between divisions with each fight.

“I just don’t want to go from one to the other, one to the other. If my body is there at 205, and my weight is down there, I don’t want to have to put more weight on,” Bader said. “I might as well just get two in, get another win in, go back up. When this whole thing started, we got asked to come to the heavyweight tournament.

“My concern was, what’s going to happen to the light heavyweight belt?” Bader continued. “They said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Say you win it, we’re going to keep that for you, we’re not going to do an interim belt or anything like that.’ So, I felt confident being able to go up and doing that. I hadn’t defended it in a while, but that’s not my fault. I won that tournament, and I’m defending the title again. That’s on the promotion.”

Of course, all this talk is moot if Bader looks past Kongo (30-10-2 MMA, 12-2 BMMA), who brings an eight-fight winning streak into the bout.

“It’s not easy to go out and win eight fights in a row,” Bader said. “Now granted, a lot of them weren’t the best competition. A lot of them were a week’s notice, two weeks’ notice, whatever, but he went and beat Minakov out there in his last fight. And like I said, it’s not easy winning eight fights in a row. I know I have a tough task at hand. He’s a big, technically sound heavyweight, throws hard. His wrestling has got a lot better. Any guy you go out and fight, it’s going to be a tough fight at this level. If you’re going for a belt? There’s no gimmes.”

For more on Bellator 226, check out the MMA schedule.

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