Fabian Edwards expects to shed ‘a little tear’ if Bellator title bid succeeds

Edwards takes on the highly rated and undefeated Johnny Eblen at Bellator 299.

David Charlesworth
Friday 22 September 2023 09:00 BST
Fabian Edwards, left, is gunning for Bellator gold this weekend (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Fabian Edwards, left, is gunning for Bellator gold this weekend (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Fabian Edwards is a calm and composed character at all times but he confessed he could shed “a little tear” if he wins the Bellator middleweight title this weekend.

Edwards takes on the highly rated and undefeated Johnny Eblen at Bellator 299 at Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday night, bidding to join older brother Leon, the UFC welterweight titlist, as world champion.

The younger Edwards recognises how far he and his sibling have come, from growing up in squalor in Kingston, Jamaica, to taking up mixed martial arts as a means of escaping gang culture in Birmingham.

He told the PA news agency: “I’m not emotional about it at all but on Saturday when I win that belt, I can’t promise you won’t see a little tear. It’s been a long journey.

“It’s really going to mean the world. I keep saying I’d be over the moon and all the usual stuff but I feel you can’t really put it into words.

“Once I go out there and I achieve that goal, I’d need to get a dictionary and look up a word in there that’s going to describe it but I probably won’t be able to find one.”

Despite a tough upbringing, Edwards has never lacked self-belief, even when his career was derailed following back-to-back defeats against Costello van Steenis and Austin Vanderford.

He rebuilt with three successive wins, beating two bona fide titans of the sport in Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi in the process, to earn his shot against Eblen.

Edwards said: “I thought I’d never lose. I went undefeated for six years. But I still always kept the belief of knowing I was world class and knowing I could get a world title.

“I feel like my tough upbringing could have contributed to my confidence, going from Jamaica to here and even while I’m over here, going through a lot of stuff that’s going to build you to be solid.

“I’m one of those guys who wants to feel f****d in training, I want to mentally push myself to that point where I think ‘f***ing hell’ and then carry on doing it.”

While Eblen has won all 13 of his contests, Edwards suspects his American rival is too full of himself.

Edwards said: “He believes he’s better than what he is in all areas. That’s what going to play right into my hands. When everything starts falling apart in there, it will be too late for him.”

This is Edwards’ first title opportunity but he was in Salt Lake City 13 months ago when his brother delivered the head kick around the world to win UFC gold, defeating Kamaru Usman in a shock upset.

He added: “If it’s him fighting I’m more nervous and he’s the same when I’m fighting. When you’ve seen someone work so hard, let alone if they’re your family as well, you just want the best for them.

“But my brother always says the same thing, ‘it’s just a fight. Stop trying to build up the moment bigger than what the moment is.’

“I’ll be fighting with all my heart and all of my might to beat this guy, it doesn’t matter what is on the line, when you have that mindset you allow the moment not to get the better of you.”

:: Tune into Bellator 299: Eblen vs Edwards live from the 3Arena, Dublin, on BBC iPlayer from 9pm on Saturday 23rd September

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