Michael Chiesa: Leon Edwards’ Skill Doesn’t Always Translate to Aggression

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Michael Chiesa thinks Leon Edwards’ well-rounded skillset plays to his detriment.

Welterweight champion Edwards (22-3 MMA, 14-2 UFC) retained his belt in a lackluster unanimous decision win over Colby Covington at UFC 296.

Edwards’ performance was criticized by many, especially with Covington looking rusty after almost two years off. Chiesa theorizes that Edwards’ conservative showing could have come because he was in firm control of the fight against Covington.

“He definitely slowed down in the Colby fight,” Chiesa said on his “Round-Up” show with Paul Felder. “He didn’t even get a vintage Colby pace. I think Leon is not underrated, skill-wise. I think if anyone underrates his skills, then they don’t know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to mixed martial arts. There’s not a person I’ve talked to who says he lacks in the skill department. But on the flip side of that, sometimes the people that are the most skilled go for it the least.

“When a guy has maybe deficits in his skills, they’re more prone to putting themselves  – you have to put yourself in harm’s way sometimes to get a finish. When you’re like Leon, the perfect head kick KO like he had against Kamaru (Usman), they’re definitely counter strikes. Sometimes you have to just not try to be so skilled and just take a chance. Really skilled guys will be really reserved instead of putting themselves out there.”

Chiesa compared Edwards to former UFC dual-champion Georges St-Pierre, who got most of his wins by decision, but reigned over the welterweight division for more than five years.

“Unless (Edwards) landed a good counterstrike to hurt you, I don’t see him trying to force an opportunity to create a finish,” Chiesa said. “It’s one of those things where he’s almost too skilled. Sometimes when someone is too skilled, they don’t go for it enough. They just try to be perfect – kind of like what Georges used to do.”

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