BROTHERS Leon and Fabian Edwards fight for rival promotions but are on the same path.
They vow to make history by holding world titles at the same time.
Leon headlines UFC London on March 21 against ex-welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and will receive a title shot should he win the bout.
Fabian is one of Bellator’s rising stars and believes he will end the year challenging for the middleweight belt.
SunSport visited the Team Renegade gym in Birmingham to find out the story of how the brothers grew up performing WWE moves on each other, their differing views on sparring and relationship out of the gym.
How and why did your MMA careers begin?
LE: “I began my MMA career aged 17, my mum brought me to my local gym in my area to just keep me away from trouble.
“I kept getting in trouble as a kid so I was trying to find another path for me to go in and there was a local gym in my area, and here I am.
“It taught me a lot of things in life; discipline, hard work and dedication – the basic rules of life, to get ahead right?
“I’ve now brought it into my personal life to be a great dad, a good friend, a good son, it’s helped me a lot.”
FE: “My brother definitely opened my eyes to this sport, but I never thought I’d be doing it if I’m honest, I never thought I’d be a fighter.
“I thought I’d give it a go and it turns out I’m alright at it, I just stuck at it and here I am today.
Fabian, what kind of advantage is it having a big brother in the same sport?
FE: “Having a brother that’s done it and had so much experience, I can always go to him if I need to ask him something or he can see that I’m doing something wrong he can advise me on it.
“I know his opinion will always come from the heart, he won’t just be saying it for the sake of saying it.”
Leon, what did you think when Fabian first told you he wanted to be a fighter.
FE: “He knew I was a savage anyway!”
Leon: “(Laughing) I told him to go ahead and give it a go. It changed my life so I couldn’t see why it wouldn’t be good for him as well. But I didn’t know he’d take to it that easy and that good so fast.
“I’ll try advise him on the way as much as he can but he’s got to forge his own path and make his own mistakes, I think that’s the best way to learn.”
What was it like growing up in the Edwards household between each other – was there any fights?
LE: “No, not really. I put my hands on him a few times! But that’s about it.”
FE: (Laughing) “Whatever!”
LE: “We didn’t really fight as brothers, to be honest. Just like little brothers and big brothers.
“We’d play fight as kids, we liked wrestling, we used to love WWE and we’d wrestle a lot with my other brother. The odd elbow.
“We are very close as brothers, we’d never really fight or compete against each other. Now in MMA we train everyday and learn from each other back and forth.
“It’s good to be amongst it with your little brother chasing the same dream and having the same goals in life.”
If you are ever sparring, do you find it more competitive as you’re trying to one up each other?
LE: “For me I think it’s less competitive, you don’t want to hurt your brother, right?
“You kind of pull back on your punches sometimes, so for me it’s less competitive, sparring-wise with headshots.
“Grappling rounds you kind of go hard because there’s less injuries involved. But in terms of giving out and taking punches…
FE: “For me I’m trying to take his head off! I’m trying to get the knockout I am… I’m looking for the finish each round!
“But no, again, it’s all about trying to get to the fight safe. And that’s it, try and give him good work but no stupid work.”
You both corner each other during fights, how do you compare the nerves of fighting yourself to cornering your brother?
LE: “For me it’s more nerve-wracking watching your brother fight because it’s out of your control, you’ve got no control of what’s happening in the cage.
“You know he’s prepared you know he’s ready but it’s still a fight – anything can happen in a fight. When you fight yourself you know what’s going to happen, you’re fighting for yourself so you’re in control of your own destiny.
“It’s way worse watching him fight compared to me competing.”
FE: “Whenever I’m cornering him my mouth is dry as f***. For me it’s the same as Leon said, when I’m fighting I feel in control and when he’s fighting I’m not doubting him, there’s no doubt in my head it’s a fight and he’s blood.”
Two brothers holding MMA world titles at the same time has never been done, has it always been the dream for you two to be the first?
FE: “I feel like when I decided to commit to the sport it was different my brother got into the sport that was his goal, but for me I knew that was what I was chasing, I’m after the gold.
“I’ve always wanted to be one of the greatest, and that's what he’s trying to be as well.”
LE: “We both knew our goals was to be world champion. My goal was to be UFC champion and his goal was to be champion of whatever promotion he was with.
“To have two brothers as champion, that’s history. To come from where we’ve come from and to have gained two of the most prestigious titles in the sport, it’s never been done before.
“This is our aim and we’ll look to achieve it this year and I feel like it will happen.”
What’s your relationship like outside of the sport, do you spend a lot of time together?
LE: “No, not really. We’ve been out in town a few times together but he’s got his own friends, I’ve got my own friends and we kind of know each other as kids anyway.
“But there’s different relationship outside because he does his own thing, I do my own thing and it’s always love.”
FE: “If he ever needs me for anything I’m always there and vice-versa.”
LE: “I think it would be annoying to have a brother 24/7 around you. You need to figure out your own space.
“We’re both men and you need to figure out your own path and I don’t think you should follow your brother everywhere they go.”
I’m taking everything this year #theassassinera #birmingham
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What’s the ambition for 2020?
LE: “That gold belt. After March 21st I’ll fight for the gold this year. Same with him, I think he’ll fight for the gold this year.
“He’s very close to the title shot, I’m one fight away from the title shot so 2020 we’ll both hold gold.”
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