Leon Edwards is hoping to be propelled into super-stardom when he takes on Nate Diaz at UFC 263 this Saturday evening in Glendale, Arizona.
‘Rocky’ has lived as much as his nickname for all of the improper causes – enduring a nightmare interval away from the game as inactivity threatened to blight his progress within the welterweight division.
A scheduled bout for UFC London towards Tyron Woodley was scrapped on account of COVID-19, he rejected a last-minute title shot towards Kamaru Usman and his proposed bout with Khamzat Chimaev seems to be one other cursed MMA contest.
Edwards lastly managed to ebook an opponent in March, but his combat with Belal Muhammad was cruelly lower quick on account of an unintended eye poke and it left the Birmingham-native in tears.
Nevertheless, he has secured what could possibly be a life-changing combat with Diaz this weekend, with the winner prone to get a welterweight title shot.
But overcoming hardship to succeed is one thing the 29-year-old has needed to do his complete life, beginning along with his childhood in Jamaica residing in a shack.
Edwards lived in Kingston along with his mom, father and brother, Fabian, in a wood shack with a zinc roof in only one room; this room contained the kitchen, the lounge and the bed room.
“Everyone seems to be broke, however they’re nonetheless warring over territory,” he informed ESPN. “It’s in all probability the poverty and starvation that does it to males. It’s mad.
“As a child rising up in Jamaica, all you see is crime, medication, killing, taking pictures, poverty. Day in and time out. I’ve by no means seen somebody get shot in entrance of my face, however I’ve seen individuals who had been hit with bullets operating to get away.
“Killing turned regular to me as a child. Listening to gunshots was regular; it didn’t faze me. Whenever you’re taking part in exterior in Jamaica and also you hear gunshots, you don’t run and conceal. You simply look, and if it’s nowhere close to you, you stick with it along with your day. That was it. It is part of life. We didn’t know any higher.”
Edwards’ father was concerned in nefarious actions, however at all times made certain to offer for his household. Nevertheless, when Leon was simply an adolescent, his father was tragically shot lifeless.
“After I was 14, my father was murdered,” he stated. “He was shot and killed at a nightclub in London. It was one thing to do with cash. I don’t know what precisely. It was some mad s—, however I knew that it might occur.
“However that didn’t make it any simpler. It f***** me up. It pushed me extra into gang life and crime, towards the damaging. My mid-teens had been my darkest years.
“My crew was concerned with fights, robberies and stabbings. We offered some medication. We smoked weed and drank, a bit. I used to be arrested a couple of instances, for fights and having a knife.
“It was principally combating. I fought to defend buddies, I fought to intimidate and I fought due to beefs. I fought on a regular basis. That’s why my nickname is ‘Rocky.’ I received that from faculty. That’s earlier than I received into MMA. I received it simply from scrapping within the streets.”
It will need to have felt as if the world was towards Edwards at instances, even after shifting to the UK.
His UFC profession has been suffering from troublesome moments, just like the fights being cancelled previously 12 months or dropping his welterweight rating after an eight-fight win streak.
However a win over hardened veteran Diaz this weekend will propel him in direction of his final ambition – the welterweight title.
A rematch with the king of the division Kamaru Usman – the final man to beat him – awaits.
“That is the combat that can put me the place I belong,” Edwards declared forward of UFC 263.
Nate Diaz could but have one thing to say about that. However given what Edwards has overcome in his profession and life to this point, you’d be courageous to wager towards him…