Yes, Michael Bisping did it first when he upset then-middleweight champion Luke Rockhold back in 2016, but there’s a key difference. By the time Bisping knocked out Rockhold at UFC 199, he’d already been living – and training – in Southern California for several years. Edwards, on the other hand, has remained in the U.K. his entire career and trains out of Team Renegade in Birmingham, England.
With all eyes on him during the UFC 278 post-fight news conference, that distinction was important for Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) to mention unprompted.
“This has never been done before, to have a guy from Birmingham in the U.K., did it from the U.K,” Edwards told reporters at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. “I know Bisping did it first, but he did it from living in America. So it was hard for people like me to relate, to say, ‘Look, we can do it, as well.’”
Edwards was born into poverty in Jamaica, something he was vocal about during his octagon interview with Joe Rogan after he finished Usman. Edwards and his family immigrated to the U.K. when he was a child.
As Edwards put it, his mother enrolled him in an MMA gym to keep him out of trouble when he was 17. As his UFC career ascended, Edwards certainly could’ve decided to leave Birmingham to train elsewhere, but he never had any interest.
“I made a point to stay in the U.K. to achieve this, to show the other guys coming under me that, look, if you believe in your country, if you believe in your team, you can achieve it,” Edwards said. “And that’s what I did. I went out there, and I achieved it from a little, small gym in Birmingham. It’s a crazy story.”
One of a kind.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.