While Leon Edwards didn't have the welterweight gold and had a 0-1 head-to-head record with Kamaru Usman at this time last year, the situation has unquestionably changed.
Edwards defeated Usman in 2 fights in August of last year and March of this year. He initially evened the match and robbed the long-reigning champion of the belt in Utah with a vicious fifth-round head-kick knockout.
Though some claimed that the manner of that victory was an accident, "Rocky" gave a blow to his critics by defeating "The Nigerian Nightmare" over the course of five rounds at UFC 286 in London.
The future of Usman became a heated question following a second straight defeat to Edwards. The former 170-pound champion, though, was fast to jump back on the horse despite many predicting a protracted absence from the sport and possibly even a retirement announcement.
Edwards discussed his two victories over Usman during a recent interview and the former champion's vow to more appearances inside the Octagon.
"Not really (surprised that he's not retiring), 'cause he is a dog, you know?" Edwards said. "I truly believe that he still beats everyone within the top five, top 10, apart from me. He's a great competitor. Everyone's trying to say now that he's lost a step because I beat him. But when he was knocking Colby (Covington) out, knocking (Jorge) Masvidal out, he didn't lose a step? Now, suddenly after I beat him twice, he's lost a step.
"It is what it is, what people say. But yeah, like I say, It's good to have him in the game. He is a great fighter," Edwards continued. "I'm just the better man, and that's it."