Leon 'Rocky' Edwards defeated UFC and WEC legend Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone on the scorecards after a five-round, back-and-forth welterweight war at UFC Fight Night in Singapore on Saturday.
It may have been Edwards’ first-ever UFC main event, but he showed no trace of nerves as he started superbly, dominating the opening round as he showed just why the bookmakers had him as the pre-fight favourite.
Edwards dominated both in the clinch and at distance as his southpaw stance, superb timing and rapier-like punches proved a nightmare for the American veteran early on.
But as the fight progressed, Cerrone’s sheer dogged determination saw him work his way back into the fight and force Edwards to go the distance after a thrilling five-rounds of back-and-forth action.
“Who said I can’t go five rounds?!" said Edwards, after earning scores of 48-47 on all three scorecards.
Then the Brit called on UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby to bring the octagon back to his home city of Birmingham for the first time since UFC 138 back in 2011. And he even named his choice of opponent, American welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal.
“Sean Shelby! UFC Birmingham. Me, Masvidal. Let’s go! Make it happen!”
“I want to push for that UFC Birmingham card. Hopefully they can bring it back to Birmingham, my home city.
“They’ve got me, they’ve got Tom Breese, they’ve got my brother Fabian Edwards, the BAMMA world champion, so let’s make that happen.”
Fans of Cerrone will be delighted to hear the American doesn’t plan on hanging up his gloves any time soon. He’s just having too much fun.
“How could you not love that, oh my god!” he smiled, despite his defeat.
“I was literally sick all day and couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve never felt like that ever. But that’s no excuse, I came here and fought my ass off like I always do.
“I Love it, love it, love it!”
OSP bounces back with armbar victory
In the co-main event of the night, American light-heavyweight contender Ovince Saint-Preux produced a superb come-from-behind performance to defeat rising Australian prospect Tyson Pedro via first-round submission.
Pedro started fast, clipping Saint-Preux with a question-mark kick, then wobbling the former interim title challenger with a straight right.
Pedro followed up that shot by trying to lock up a guillotine choke submission attempt, but the American kept his cool and managed to escape the hold.
Once he was free, Saint-Preux then turned the tables on the Australian as he took down Pedro and locked up a straight armbar to force the Aussie to tap.
The understated Saint-Preux said that when he’s on the mat with a fellow fighter, he knows he’ll prevail.
“If I’m on top of you, you’re in trouble.”
Yan’s the man on his UFC debut
Earlier in the night, the main card started with a pair of decision victories as Chinese welterweight prospect Li Jingliang and women’s flyweight contender Jessica Eye claimed important victories over Daichi Abe and Jessica-Rose Clark respectively.
And there was also a hugely impressive octagon debut for Russian bantamweight star Petr Yan, whose bout with Teruto Ishihara headlined the preliminary card.
Yan built a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting bantamweights from his time competing for Russian promotion ACB, and now he’s looking to do the same on the world’s biggest MMA stage with the UFC.
Yan’s much-awaited UFC debut saw the power-punching 25-year-old fighter extended his professional record to 8-1 after dropping South Korean Ishihara three times en route to a TKO victory.