It witnessed Usman out-wrestle Edwards and secure a unanimous decision victory.
Back then, Usman was viewed primarily as a grappler, whereas Edwards was regarded as a striking specialist. In the ensuing years, both fighters significantly evolved their respective MMA skill-sets.
They’re currently heralded among the most well-rounded fighters in MMA.
In a video posted to Daniel Cormier’s YouTube channel, ‘DC’ notably recalled that in the first fight, Usman wanted to avoid striking with Edwards and was desperate to take him down.
The MMA legend suggested that Usman’s striking has considerably improved since that matchup. He asked Edwards if he feels that Usman would utilize a similar grappling-heavy approach akin to the first fight or if he’d stand and trade with ‘Rocky.’ Edwards responded by stating:
“I think he’ll be more willing to stand and trade with me.”
In response to Daniel Cormier noting that Kamaru Usman was almost panicking to take Leon Edwards down in their first fight, the latter replied by saying:
“Yeah, for sure, 100%. I think he’d be more willing to do it, but there’s levels to the striking. Now, what he does, he does it very well. He fights behind his jab. He’s very balanced. He just plods forward, landing straight shots. And I think once I start getting my striking off and being loose in there, he’s gonna go back to the first fight, which is trying to shoot for that single-leg [takedown] and pin me against the cage and hold me against the cage.”
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend his belt in a rematch against Leon Edwards at UFC 278 on August 20.
Watch Edwards discuss the topic at 6:55 in the video below: