LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White repeatedly makes it clear he doesn't like being asked to matchmake future fights on the night of events, so he's certainly not going to commit to anything several days before a contest takes place. That said, White said there's a natural connection between this weekend's UFC 278 headliner and the one that takes place next month at UFC 279.
It's a key rematch some seven years in the making, and White believes Edwards (19-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) has a real chance to play spoiler as Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) seeks his seventh consecutive title defense, as well as a chance to tie Anderson Silva's promotional record of 16 consecutive octagon victories.
"Rocky" has endured a ridiculous road of challenges to get to this point, including six different fight cancellations over the past two years, as well as an unfortunate no contest result, but on Saturday night, none of that matters.
"He's had a serious bad-luck streak, for sure, man – but here he is," White told MMA Underground. "He's going into Salt Lake City, sold-out venue, tons of hype behind this fight, and he can come in with the storybook ending and stop (Usman) from beating Anderson Silva's record."
It would be an incredible accomplishment for Edwards to be the first to hand Usman a loss in the UFC, but a reality in MMA is that with every victory comes the immediate question of, "What's next?" In terms of big pay-per-view events for the sport's biggest promotion, that would be UFC 279 on Sept. 10 at T-Mobile Arena, where Khamzat Chimaev meets Nate Diaz in the night's main event.
At SISportsbook.com, Chimaev is currently a -1099 favorite, implying nearly a 92 percent probably of victory for the undefeated "Borz." White said that a Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) victory at UFC 279 would certainly earn him a look at the winner of this weekend's title fight but that Diaz (20-13 MMA, 15-11 UFC) could absolutely earn that same opportunity.
"I mean, obviously, if Nate beat Khamzat Chimaev, the No. 3 guy in the world, you'd have to look at Nate, too," White said. "Everybody's talking ... like that it's impossible for Nate Diaz to win this fight. Nothing is impossible in fighting. Everything is possible.
"Nate Diaz wanted this fight. It was either this fight or Francis Ngannou. This fight makes a lot more sense than Francis does. But, you know, for everybody to think that a veteran who's as durable as Nate Diaz can't win this fight is insane, so anything is possible. ... You get out of the first two rounds and the fight gets interesting."
Check out the full interview in the video above.