Marshal art artist Leon Edwards has opined that he probably would have ended up in jail if he had not embraced the sports when he did.
Edwards has taken an arduous path to gain his shot at UFC glory going unbeaten for 10 fights in a row having had the most turbulent of upbringings.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1991, Edwards has explained he and his parents and brother slept in one bed in wooden shack with a zinc roof in the Caribbean, before moving to England when he was aged nine.
Having seen “crime, drugs, killing, shooting and poverty” on the streets of Kingston, the future MMA star joined the Ultimate Training Centre in Aston at the age of 17 four years after his father was shot and killed in a nightclub.
Speaking to ESPN back in 2019, Edwards said: “I do everything I can for my family and others, because I know what could have been.
“There were people I knew who are still stuck in that situation I was in, and they’re either dead, in prison or dead broke. That could have happened to me. That was the life.
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“I’d probably be in the same position they’re in if things didn’t work out differently. I still don’t know why it did.”
That bout, with his next opponent UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, 35, proved to be a turning point in the career of the Erdington local, who is out to shock the world at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City.
“I can see straight through him,” said Edwards of Usman (20-1), who is ranked as the best P4P fighter in the promotion following five defences of his title across three years.
Edwards, who also represents the country of his birth, Jamaica, will be the fourth Brit to challenge for a UFC title following Dan Hardy’s defeat to Georges St-Pierre in 2010, Michael Bisping’s win over Luke Rockhold in 2016 and Darren Till’s loss against Tyron Woodley in 2018. Edwards and Kamaru have scores to settle tonight.