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Edwards on UK MMA: ‘We’re on the same level’ as everyone else

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Birmingham’s own Leon Edwards gets ready to face Peter Sobotta, and he’s expecting a big step up with a win.

With eight UFC fights under his belt, Leon Edwards has carved out a very good record so far in the #1 organization in the world. With a respectable run that includes wins over Seth Baczynski, Albert Tumenov, and Bryan Barberena, the former BAMMA champion was hoping for a fight with someone further up the ladder in a crowded welterweight division. While he’s happy to fight on his home soil at UFC Fight Night 127: Werdum vs. Volkov, he’s still hoping that a win over Peter Sobotta gets him some upward mobility.

So in anticipation for the event, Edwards made some time on his schedule to talk to Bloody Elbow regarding his upcoming fight, as well as the U.K. maturing into its current state. And food. The man likes food. Enjoy.

Victor Rodriguez: Leon, you’ve been in the UFC for some time after coming up the ranks through BAMMA, you’ve got a great win streak put together here and you’re fighting Peter Sobotta, who has been a pretty consistent and reliable veteran. Have been watching much footage, have you been analyzing his game?

Leon Edwards: Peter’s a tough opponent, and I expected to get a higher ranked opponent (since I’m) coming off a four-fight win streak. Yeah, I’ve been watching him, I’ve been watching him a lot. He’s tough, he’s tough. But he brings nothing to the table that I haven’t seen before. So, I’m looking forward to going out there and performing in London.

VR: Is there anything that you’ve seen from him that makes you kind of step back and go “OK, I like the way he does that”? Anything in his game that you see that makes you think “I respect that“?

LE: Nothing I haven’t seen before. He’s a veteran, he was in the UFC before and he fought one of my teammates, Paul Taylor, back in the day. He came back and got a good little streak, so like I said, I don’t see anything he brings to the table that I haven’t seen before from any guy I’ve competed against in the UFC. So, I’m looking forward to going out there and putting him away in London.

VR: Looking at your career, you’ve fought some really, really tough guys. In your progression and evolution as a fighter, is there one specific fight that you can say between one fight and the other “I’ve made a leap in my improvement”?

LE: I think that for me, traveling and working – I spent some time at AKA – that’s improved my grappling by leaps and bounds. Now I’m back in the U.K., I did my last 3-4 camps here and it’s all paying off. I think everything with my training partners and my coaches is coming together, everyone is working for the same goal. Before I’ve kind of gone here and here and there, but now I’ve got a good, stable crew here in the U.K. I think it’s all paying off. I’m gonna stay in the U.K. for the rest of my camps, I think.

VR: As far as the MMA scene in general in the U.K., we’ve seen a lot of really great fighters come out with a higher level of consistency across the board. Now obviously, U.K. fighters were known for being really good with their striking but perhaps faltering somewhat in the grappling, but there’s a lot more equity in the game now. I want to know what you think might still be missing or what you’d like to see improved in the overall U.K. scene when it comes to training.

LE: I think we’re catching up. We’re catching up. We’ve got everything we need: great striking, great wrestling. I’ve proven that my wrestling has improved in my last four fights. I think there’s nothing in the U.K. that we can’t get. The up-and-comers now, the younger guys on the U.K. scene, they’ve got everything. They’ve got grappling, they’ve got striking, they’ve got Jiu-Jitsu. … So I think back in the day we had to travel to learn to wrestle and to get the Jiu-Jitsu, but now I think everyone in the U.K. – the games come to a higher level. We don’t have to travel no more. We can stay here and do it. We don’t have to go to America to learn wrestling. I feel that we’re not really lacking in much, it’s just time and we’ll prove that we’re on the same level.

VR: A few months ago we had Mark Diakiese walk out to viral sensation “Man’s Not Hot“…

LE: (Laughs) Oh, yeah…

VR: Are you surprised he was the first UFC fighter that came out to that or that it took that long for a U.K. fighter to come out to that song?

LE: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s a good tune, it’s kind of like, a comedic tune. I expected more guys to come out with it. On the local scene there’s a lot of guys coming out, but not in the UFC. But yeah, it was funny!

VR: Your fight is a few weeks away, have you started the preparation for cutting weight yet?

LE: Not really cutting, but I’m watching my carbs and my protein and my fat. My weight’s coming down nicely, I’ve never had trouble cutting weight before. I expect to make it again. I’ve never missed weight for as long as I’ve been doing it for. It should be easy again.

VR: When you actually do get to the cut – and I know it’s a bit of torture asking you, so I’m sorry – what food do you miss the most? What’s the one thing that you know you shouldn’t be eating but you crave horribly?

LE: (Slight groan) My favorite food is pizza. I love pizzas, and…cutting weight, fuck it (laughs), it reminds me, on the Sunday after the fight I’m gonna have to go to Pizza Hut, Domino’s. That’s all I think about, really. That and chocolate…

VR: Oooh…

LE: Those are my two things that really… (laughs) those are the two things I really think about. After the fight I go to where I can get it and it’s all good.

UFC Fight Night 127: Werdum vs. Volkov (also known as Fight Night London) takes place on March 17th, and will be streaming live via UFC Fight Pass starting at noon EST.

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