UFC 286's Leon Edwards is the ex-council estate tearaway thrown into MMA by his mum and on cusp of cementing his legacy | The Sun

LEON EDWARDS never imagined fighting for a UFC title when his mum threw him into mixed martial arts in a desperate bid to get him off the streets of Birmingham.

But 13 years after being thrust into the sport after falling in with the wrong crowd, Rocky competed for the most coveted prize in the sport.

The Brummie, 31, finally got his long-awaited crack at the welterweight title last August against pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman, an opportunity he grabbed with both hands.

But the prospect of reaching the pinnacle of the sport didn't phase Edwards ahead of the biggest fight of his career as he'd already survived the dangerous streets of Kingston, Jamaica and Birmingham.

He told SunSport: "I believe my childhood to adulthood has prepared me for this moment.

"It's prepared me for the pressure and it's prepared me for everything.


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"I'm now going into my fourth main event in the UFC. But for me, it just feels like another main event. It doesn't feel like a title fight."

Edwards was on a one-way path to a life of crime on Birmingham's notorious Jarvis Road Estate at the age of 13 after his dad was murdered.

And he's eternally grateful to his mum for scrimping and saving every spare penny she had to pay for his gym membership to keep him on the straight and narrow.

He said: "She was literally just doing it because I was getting into trouble.

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"She said, 'Instead of just hanging around on the street with nothing to do, go hang around in the gym and train in the gym.' I always thank her [for what she did]."

Edwards became the first Brit to challenge for UFC gold since Darren Till's unsuccessful crack at the welterweight strap four-and-a-half years ago.

The slick southpaw suffered a decision defeat to Usman eight years ago but exacted his revenge with a stunning head kick KO at UFC 278, although that wasn't on his mind ahead of their rematch.

He said: "For me, it's just solely about my career and achieving my dreams and putting the icing on the cake of my life story.

"To come from Jamaica and emigrate to the UK and to now be fighting for the UFC world championship, it's a mad life.

"And all it is, for me, is to beat him and become a world champion."

Nigerian Nightmare Usman ran through all comers after being welcomed to MMA's top promotion by Edwards in December 2015

But that dominant victory over Rocky is now just a fleeting memory after he was viciously knocked out by the Team Renegade ace.

Edwards said of his stunning finish in his maiden title fight: "I knew that I needed the finish.

"My coach told me and I knew that I needed to go out there and get the finish. I was down three rounds.

"That technique, we drilled in camp. We were using it.

" I could hear them [my corner] shouting it. 'Head kick head kick'. I could hear them in the corner.

"But I was also waiting for the perfect moment to throw it.

"If you watch the fight, I didn't throw many head kicks.

"It was more inside leg kicks, setting him up and getting his mind away from the head kick.

"Usman's got a tendency where he parries, big parries.

"So I knew if I go and double up on something it would catch him and so it did."

Usman and Edwards will renew their rivalry in a trilogy fight on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 286.

And the pride of Birmingham is adamant the belt will stay on UK soil.

He said of Usman: “Our mentalities are in two different places.

"I feel like he’s on the way out, and I’m going to open that door for him and give him a path to follow his fashion dreams and wherever he wants to go.

“I think he’s already got one, something’s out the door and I was going to add to that.

"Whether he retires after or not, it’s up to him.”

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He also reckons Usman will be second-guessing his chin come fight night.

He asked: "How does he come back from the knockout?"

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