The Film Room: Leon Edwards

By Kevin Wilson Jun 21, 2018
Leon Edwards will face perhaps his most difficult test when he battles Donald Cerrone in the UFC Fight Night 132 main event on Saturday in Kallang, Singapore. Edwards joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2014, slowly worked his way up the rankings and emerged as one of the most well-rounded fighters in the welterweight division. A win over Cerrone could thrust him into the Top 10 at 170 pounds.

The latest installment in The Film Room focuses on Edwards’ exploits.

Welterweight Dark Horse

A former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion, Edwards will seek to prove himself as a serious contender when he headlines a UFC card for the first time. As a tricky and diverse striker, Edwards covers all aspects of striking in MMA. Whether he works on the counter or the lead, he has proven effective everywhere on the feet and has a deep bag of tricks into which he can dip. With a healthy dose of feints and a deceptive, range-setting jab, Edwards can back down his opponents with pressure or put his focus on the counter.

When working on the lead, Edwards possesses one of the best rear kicks to the body in the game. He sets up his trademark kick with a variety of hip, jab and upper-body feints, similar to former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. These deceptive feints allow him to throw the kick with almost no setup, making it almost impossible for his opponents to see it coming.

Beyond the rear kick to the body, Edwards’ go-to combination is a simple jab-straight or lead hook-straight from his southpaw stance. In one sequence, he threw two jab-straights that were partially blocked and switched to the lead hook-straight. The lead hook slightly pushed down Vicente Luque’s lead hand, allowing the rear straight to land between his guard. This is also known as a hand trap and is commonly used in English and Dutch kickboxing, but it is not seen much in MMA since a high guard is less effective with smaller gloves. Be aware of how Edwards takes a deep step outside of his opponents’ lead foot to better set up the rear straight.

Although Edwards is often the man on the lead, he is arguably at his best when working on the counter. Edwards boasts a lightning-quick and accurate counter left straight and will throw one down the middle anytime his opponent overextends or comes forward with hands down. He routinely looks for this counter when his opponents throw kicks and drop their defense, just as Seth Baczynski did in his eight-second fight with Edwards.

Edwards offers an underrated grappling game thanks to his time with the American Kickboxing Academy, arguably the best wrestling gym in MMA. There, Edwards trains alongside fighters like Daniel Cormier, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Cain Velasquez. His grappling is primarily defensive in nature, but he can catch opponents in a submission if they are not alert. He earned his first submission inside the Octagon with a rear-naked choke against Albert Tumenov back at UFC 204.

In his most recent appearance, Edwards added a new layer to his wrestling game. Most thought Edwards had the clear advantage in the striking exchanges and would spend the fight defending takedowns and picking apart Peter Sobotta on the feet. Instead, he initiated the grappling and dominated the submission specialist on the ground for much of the fight. At only 26, Edwards is already well-versed in every aspect of MMA and has emerged as a sleeper contender in the welterweight division.


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