I’ve been hyper critical of Leon Edwards constantly calling out title shots even if he has good wins have aged poorly. But this weekend, we have Jorge Masvidal fighting for the title after sitting out nine months and being gifted that very thing, even as his wins have done the exact same thing. What gives?
Case Study: Leon Edwards
Leon Edwards has been at the top for a while. He’s gone 8-0-1 since losing his last fight to Kamaru Usman in 2015. But he hasn’t been granted his title shot even though many have called for him to get his chance at the belt for a long time.
On Rokfin, I talked about how Edwards had some great wins but his gamble of waiting for a title shot saw him lose that bet and be left out in the cold. His last win was over fourth ranked Rafael Dos Anjos. Gunnar Nelson was ranked 13th. Cowboy: 11th. If you go back and look at the current rankings, Leon Edwards doesn’t have a single win over a ranked welterweight with the exception of Vicente Luque in 2017.
His waiting saw the good wins he had literally age out of competition. Nobody wants to take the chance at Edwards except Khamzat Chimaev and Wonderboy. But Leon Edwards believes he deserves the shot at belt and a rematch with Usman.
While I don’t agree with it, the UFC’s actions certainly point to that being an acceptable practice.
Case Study: Jorge Masvidal
Jorge Masvidal has a very similar resume to Leon Edwards. He has some great wins: #3 Darren Till, #5 Ben Askren, #5 Donald Cerrone. But, if you are fair and look with the same viewpoints as you do with Edwards, you’ll see that Masvidal doesn’t have a single win over a ranked welterweight.
What puts Jorge Masvidal behind Edwards in the rankings is the fact that Masvidal has lost and doesn’t have any type of win streak. He’s lost to Kamaru Usman in a title fight, dismantled by Stephen Thompson and stumped by Demian Maia.
So why does Masvidal get preferential treatment over Leon Edwards who, by all means, should have the advantage over Masvidal when it comes to shots at the title?
What gives? Why the Edwards Hate?
We’re seeing it again in the news cycle. Dana White has said that Colby Covington is in line for a title shot next, not Edwards. Covington has sat out as well after getting a win over Tyron Woodley. Why is Leon Edwards not getting some love from the UFC brass?
Because nobody tunes in to see Leon Edwards.
The UFC is about getting as many eyes on it’s product as possible. It’s here to sell tickets or, in COVID times, viewers and pay per view buys. It places an emphasis on this. That’s it’s business model. It’s how the fighters get paid, Dana White gets paid, and everyone else employed but the UFC gets paid.
People gravitate to Jorge Masvidal. He’s pretty relatable. People also tune into Colby Covington but for opposite reasons. They want to see Covington lose. But nobody really tunes in to see Leon Edwards.
Edwards doesn’t garner the attention in comparison to his ranking in the UFC. He’s very good as a fighter. Edwards has great footwork and is strong in the clinch. He takes advantage of his skills and physical attributes. He really is one of the most well rounded fighters in the UFC.
But skills don’t always translate to popularity. Khabib wasn’t always the superstar he was, even ranked high. Hell, even Masvidal wasn’t the most popular fighter until he blasted Till and launched Ben Askren into orbit with that knee.
Edwards is fantastic and has a claim at a title shot. But it’s the fans not latching on to him that’s denied the shot he wants. That’s nothing wrong on his part or the fans either. Matchmaking can be to blame but even then, they have their job to do and that’s to gather eyes.
Maybe Covington will negotiate himself out of the shot and Edwards will finally get the shot he deserves. Time will tell.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.