A long overdue grudge match between UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal is rumored to take place at UFC 286 in London.
The news comes after fellow contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson mused that Masvidal may be up for a title shot as former champion Kamaru Usman recovers from hand surgery. Edwards dethroned Usman at UFC 278 via fifth-round knockout in a fight he was moments away from losing on the scorecards.
Instead of a trilogy fight, Edwards finally gets to settle matters with the brash Masvidal to the delight of the London crowd. Edwards vs. Masvidal was initially scheduled for UFC 269, but Masvidal pulled out due to injury though hasn’t toned down the rhetoric towards Edwards in the months that followed.
Masvidal Not A Worthy Challenger
If true, Masvidal would be coming into a title fight on a three-fight losing streak. The outspoken Cuban has not won a fight since defeating Nate Diaz in 2019, following up those efforts with one-sided losses to Usman across two fights, then Colby Covington at UFC 272.
Masvidal has hoped to parlay his popularity towards a big fight despite his recent setbacks. While it is unfortunate that the UFC potentially might allow him to fail upwards, he’s a proven ticket seller and supports the narrative of the hometown champ vanishing his rival.
Edwards would no doubt be eager to get a chance to put Masvidal down. The two have had a heated rivalry since a 2019 tussle saw the welterweight champion take a punch from Masvidal backstage at a UFC Fight Night card. It would be serendipitous for Edwards closing the book on Masvidal in the same place their beef began.
The champ echoed concerns about the legitimacy of the fight in an interview with Sky Sports, stating “Masvidal is the one I definitely want to have, but because he keeps losing it’s difficult to make it make sense for the company, you know, even for the fans, to sell it.”
And based on fan reactions to the rumor, Edwards might be right.
UFC 286 card still to be determined
Though no fights have been scheduled for the event, tentatively penciled in for March 18, 2023 at the O2 Arena, Edwards seems to be a lock for the show. Paddy Pimblett is likely to appear on the card in hopes of putting his controversial win over Jared Gordon at UFC 282 behind him. Masvidal previously intimated he will be returning around March as well.
Ultimately, there is no real desire to pit Edwards against Masvidal until Masvidal can get back to winning fights. With as deep as the welterweight division is, there shouldn’t be a situation where Edwards has to be booked to defend against a fighter who has been winless for four years.