It has been 2,424 since Leon Edwards last tasted defeat in the cage.
The date was December 19, 2015. Edwards, 2-1 in the UFC at the time, had arrived in the UFC just over a year prior with a glowing reputation from the regional UK scene, where he won and defended the BAMMA welterweight title. He soon found that the UFC competes at a different pace; losing his debut to Claudio Silva by split decision before beating both Seth Baczynski (TKO) and Pawel Pawlak (decision).
Then came Usman. 6-1 at the time, he had just come to prominence as a winner of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ — something which delivered upon the rave reviews he had been receiving in the minor leagues. He was — and is — as a good a wrestler as there is at 170-pounds, and his grappling was a more reflexive part of his arsenal than today’s iteration, who has developed a keen striking game to work in tandem with his threat of takedowns.
It was, ultimately, his offensive wrestling which won him the first fight with Edwards, but it didn’t come without Edwards displaying some of his own tricks. His diversified striking caused more than a few problems for Usman, particularly a short uppercut that he rolled out whenever Usman threatened to change levels.
Usman has, no doubt, improved since then. So too though has Edwards, which is what makes their rematc in a couple of weeks in the UFC 278 headliner such an interesting one.
Before that, you can relive their first meeting in the video below: