Leon Edwards Controls Welterweight Division at UFC 304

Edwards defends the welterweight title against Belal Muhammad this July in England

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UFC 304 features Leon Edwards in full control

Leon Edwards runs the UFC welterweight division.

No longer are Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington wrestling over the top spot in the division. Edwards has defeated them both–Usman twice–in his last three fights, effectively removing each of them from title contention. Altogether, Edwards has won his last 12 decisions, with the only slight
blemish a no-contest against Belal Muhammad following an accidental eye poke.

Like Edwards, Muhammad continued winning, ripping off another five in a row after their no contest. The two finally get a chance to settle the score in July at UFC 304, with Edwards headlining the card in Manchester, England.

This is the fight that Covington wanted a year ago. Instead, he got a well-rested Edwards in December, where he was outclassed for 80 percent of the fight. Now comes Muhammad, who is long overdue for his title shot.

The top of the welterweight division is evolving. Leading the movement is Edwards, who can further cement himself as the most elite welterweight in the world if he can finish Muhammad.


Edson Barboza looks to extend win streak–and put himself in title contention

Edson Barboza went undefeated in two fights in 2023.

Can he extend the winning streak into 2024?

Barboza (24-11) fights the undefeated Lerone Murphy later tonight in the UFC Fight Night headline bout. But this is not a rising prospect taking on an aging veteran. While Barboza, 38, is closer to the end of his journey in the Octagon than he is to the beginning, Murphy (13-0-1) is only six years younger–and far less tested.

“This isn’t about him or me being the first one to beat him,” said Barboza. “It’s about me. One more win puts me in title contention.”

If Barboza does get his hand raised, it opens new possibilities for him in the featherweight division. Would be call out Aljamain Sterling? Or Arnold Allen? Or Movsar Evloev?

“I’m not worried about Murphy or his zero,” said Barboza. “I know I need to be my best.”

A 15-year odyssey continues for Barboza with this main event bout. The future UFC Hall of Famer has flourished in the cage, even if he never intended to compete there.

“I never wanted to do MMA,” said Barboza. “I wanted to be a kickboxer. MMA
never interested me. But I’m happy I took my first fight.”

This marks Barboza’s first headline bout in nearly three years. It is an opportunity he does not intend to let slip away.

“I need to go out and do what I do best,” said Barboza. “That is my focus.”


The Pick ‘Em Section

UFC Fight Night featherweight bout: Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy

Pick: Edson Barboza

UFC Fight Night welterweight bout: Carlston Harris vs. Khaos Williams

Pick: Carlston Harris

UFC Fight Night 

Pick: Themba Gorimbo

UFC Fight Night bantamweight bout: Adrian Yanez vs. Vinicius Salvador

Pick: Adrian Yanez

UFC Fight Night women’s strawweight bout: Angela Hill vs. Luana Pinheiro

Pick: Angela Hill

Last week: 3-2

2024 record: 47-41


Published
Justin Barrasso

JUSTIN BARRASSO

Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.