At UFC 278, Leon Edwards secured welterweight gold in the UFC. He upset the masses by knocking out Kamaru Usman in the final few minutes. It was an iconic moment that will go down in UFC history and inspire many youths across the UK.
Currently residing in Birmingham, Edwards is not only an inspiration for his work inside the Octagon but also outside, where he is involved in leading a program focused on mentoring kids alongside Jimi Manuwa and Darren Till. With knife crime surging in the UK, the program is aimed at keeping youths off the streets and teaching them self-defence.
Hailing from Wolverhampton, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown spoke highly of Edwards and his impact on the area. He said:
“I’d like to congratulate Leon on winning the UFC Welterweight Championship. It is fantastic to see an athlete from the Midlands having success at an international level. The impact he has and will continue to have on the area, especially with the Youth, is incredible, and I wish him continued success in his career.”
Along with Edwards’s success, it’s not only the athletes from the Midlands that are making an impact on the sport locally and globally. Recently Kerrith Brown and Marc Goddard were each nominated for a Fighters Only award. Brown for leading man of the year, an award IMMAF CEO Densign White had previously been nominated for, and Goddard for referee of the year.
Kerrith and Densign were both Olympic Judokas that have since become involved with MMA and are now pivotal in growing the sport around the world at an amateur level. Marc is a world-renowned referee and IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs. His knowledge and expertise have been vital to both the sport and the world governing body.
With only a couple of miles separating them, Brown and Goddard were introduced by former UFC Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Europe Garry Cook. Since then, they have worked closely together with IMMAF to help develop and build the sport of MMA.
Amongst the many plates Goddard has spinning, he also is the acting president of the English Mixed Martial Arts Association. Surrounded by a strong team, the federation is working towards getting the sport recognised and regulated. They recently sent a team to the IMMAF Youth World Championships, finishing sixth on the medal table following a fantastic tournament.
The success of the youth team, coupled with Edwards’s title win will no doubt have a positive impact on the sport at all levels and will likely have a ripple effect. Therefore aiding the sport’s growth at all levels and building EMMAA even further as they continue to push for recognition.
Across the UK, the sport is booming, and the impact from the Midlands is clear as Edwards leads the way inside the Octagon while those involved with IMMAF and EMMAA hope to pave the way for the future generation who aspire to achieve what greatness like Leon Edwards has done.