Leon Edwards responds to rumors he knocked out Ian Machado Garry, answers Belal Muhammad’s challenge 

Leon Edwards responds to rumors he knocked out Ian Machado Garry, answers Belal Muhammad’s challenge 

Leon Edwards really doesn’t understand all the drama surrounding Ian Machado Garry being kicked out of his gym ahead of UFC 296.

The reigning UFC welterweight champion and the fast rising Irish prospect briefly trained together in England but ultimately it was like mixing oil and water. Machado Garry eventually exited and moved his training camp down to Brazil with Edwards and his coaches pointing towards a culture clash that led to the split.

While Machado Garry claimed he presented “insecurities” and “doubts” as a top level contender fighting out of the same division, Edwards says that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I feel like once he came to the gym, he just didn’t fit into the gym,” Edwards told MMA Fighting. “This is like the third gym now he’s been kicked out of. It is what it is. He’s just a different kind of guy. He’s hard to blend with. Everywhere he goes there’s a camera there. Everywhere he goes, his wife is there, his kid is there. There’s a lot going on.

“There wasn’t any bad blood. He came out and made it into a big thing and it wasn’t. He’s been kicked out of more gyms than mine. Like why are you making such a big deal out of it?”

Deep down, Edwards believes Machado Garry blew it out of proportion largely because of his status as the UFC welterweight champion so the story got a lot more attention than it really deserved.

“Because I’m the champion he wants to ride off the back of my coattails and go back and forth with me on social media,” Edwards said. “It is what it is. You’ve got to focus on yourself.

“If he does get to the title — does he? I don’t know yet. That’s it. Wish him well. We’ll see what happens.”

After the split, fellow UFC 296 fighter Paddy Pimblett claimed that not only did Machado Garry not deserve to get mentioned as a potential title contender yet, but he had already been knocked out by Edwards during their time training together.

While Edwards agrees with the unwritten rule that what happens in the gym, stays in the gym he still wanted to settle the debate about what actually happened during those sparring sessions with Machado Garry.

“I didn’t knock him out clean, no,” Edwards said. “He got a little taste [of the Kamaru Usman head kick] for sure.”

On the same night where Edwards headlines UFC 296 in a title defense against Colby Covington in the main event, Machado Garry will seek to add another ranked opponent to his resume when he faces another former training partner in Vicente Luque.

Obviously with his focus set on his own fight, Edwards probably won’t pay much attention to Machado Garry’s performance, but he knows that regardless of another win, he’s still got a ways to go before challenging for a UFC title.

“Skill wise, he’s a long way away from even a thought in my brain for competing for a title,” Edwards said about Machado Garry. “Like I said, I wish him well in his endeavors but I feel like skill wise right now, he’s not a guy I think ‘oh s***, I need to stay away from this guy.’”

As far as who might actually come next for him, Edwards stated that he wasn’t sure anybody had clearly defined themselves as the true No. 1 contender in the division.

That probably comes as a surprise to Belal Muhammad, who was promised a title shot after he defeated Gilbert Burns in May to extend his undefeated streak to 10 in a row overall. The only blemish during that run came in 2021 when Muhammad’s fight with Edwards ended in a no-contest following an accidental eye poke in the second round.

In Edwards’ opinion, he’d like to see Muhammad or anybody else in the division solidify their position as a true No. 1 contender before he defends his title again.

“Is he the No. 1 contender? I don’t know,” Edwards said about Muhammad. “Would I fight him again? Absolutely. If he stands out. At the moment, there’s no one clearly stands out. There’s a little [bottle neck] thing going on. Like I said, I’m hoping to see someone stand out after this fight straight away and then we can get it booked and get moving.

“I want to be an active champion. I was fit to fight in September-ish but the UFC had other plans. They already had [Israel Adesanya] booked for already for the pay-per-view and there was other cards booked up already. It was between either New York or this card. Jon Jones ended up on the New York card even though he pulled out and now here we are.”

If the UFC ultimately calls and tells him that Muhammad is next, Edwards promises he has no problem accepting that challenge.

“No, 100 percent [I’d fight him],” Edwards said. “That’s easy work. That’s easy money. If he is the guy next, he’s the guy. But does anyone want to see that? Probably not, but if he’s the guy, then I’ll happily silence him.”

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