The throne is safe, again.
Ever since Georges St-Pierre retired from competing at welterweight in 2013, there have been two significant threats to his status as the greatest welterweight of all time.
By the conclusion of UFC 286, the second of those threats had been extinguished.
Leon Edwards won a majority decision over former champion Kamaru Usman in front of his countrymen at the O2 Arena in London to retain the welterweight crown and jumpstart another chase for the throne that the French-Canadian’s shadow looms large over.
“I truly believe this is my era,” Edwards said following his decision victory.
With an unbeaten streak stretching to seven years, he may be right.
But, for now, the crown still rests on St-Pierre’s head. And it looks like it will remain there for quite some time until another threat emerges.
At one time, Tyron Woodley appeared to be the man who could usurp GSP’s grip on the division. After demolishing Robbie Lawler in a round to take the UFC championship in 2016, Woodley held the title for nearly three years before dropping a decision to Usman.Throughout his run, which included wins over Demian Maia, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Darren Till, Woodley anointed himself as the best 170-pound fighter to ever live. However, that train was derailed by Usman, who carried an undefeated record of 9-0 in the UFC before running over Woodley at UFC 235 in 2019.
Usman ascended up the pound-for-pound ranks quickly with impressive wins over Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns. By the time he was scheduled to face Leon Edwards at UFC 278, Usman was recognized as the number one pound-for-pound in the world. His title reign felt dominant enough that few were sure that any current welterweight could dethrone him.
The dominance was so significant that Usman decided to look outside of the UFC for challenges and targeted a boxing match with Canelo Alvarez.
Taking his eye off the ball cost him big when he lost to Edwards via a last-minute head kick in a fight he was dominating last August.
That could have been relegated to a blip on the radar — akin to Matt Serra’s stunning knockout of St-Pierre back in 2007 — but Usman was unable to get his revenge and fell short against Edwards.
Usman could have salvaged it by beating Edwards in the rematch but was simply outclassed by his rival. And that definitely ends the Kamaru Usman era and his chance to be recognized as the greatest welterweight of all time.
Now, it’s Edwards’ turn.
The English fighter is another fighter on another impressive undefeated run who could eventually challenge the legendary GSP.
But he certainly has some work to do.
Edwards’ eight-fight winning streak is third in welterweight history behind St-Pierre (12) and Usman (15). However, if you remove his No Contest with Belal Muhammad, Edwards’ unbeaten streak would be at 11.
With two wins in title fights, he’s well behind St-Pierre’s 12, Usman’s six and Woodley’s four. It appears that the Leon Edwards Era will begin soon as his next title defense is bookmarked to be against two-time title challenger Colby Covington later this year.
It’s too early to call Leon Edwards’ championship reign an “era” but he has the tenure to challenge GSP should he continue his winning ways. But, for now, the title as the G.O.A.T. of the UFC welterweight division is still in Georges St-Pierre’s possession.
Published at Sun, 19 Mar 2023 06:58:08 +0000