Leon Edwards says he deserves a UFC welterweight title shot, Belal Muhammad bites back, plenty of swollen faces and more — this is your UFC Vegas 21 fallout roundup.
Leon Edwards: "I feel I deserve a title shot"
Leon Edwards believes his brief performance vs. Belal Muhammad deserves a title shot, despite the no-contest finish.
An accidental eye-poke called an early end to UFC Vegas 21's main event. Edwards told media at the post-figth press conference that he deserves a UFC welterweight title shot regardless of the non-finish.
“First obviously would be apologize to Belal Muhammad,” Edwards said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I came off a long, long year and a half for me. I prepped so hard. It’s upsetting. I wish him well, wish him a full recovery."
“[I was] going into the fight with the mentality of I wanted to fight for the belt next. So now I’m like what’s next? What do I do now? Is it a rematch? Is it someone else? I feel I deserve a title shot," he asserted. “I felt like normal. All week, it felt natural when I came to Vegas. It just felt normal like I fought last week. That’s the way I always approach it. Like I said, if you prepare properly in the gym and mentally you’re prepared, you should not feel ring rust. I was just getting into the flow of it. I set him up for the crosshead kick, we stepped into shorten my cross and that’s how he got caught with my hand. I apologize.”
Belal Muhammad takes aim at "soft" Leon Edwards
It was a disappointing end to UFC Vegas 21 after a very unintentional eye-poke shut Belal Muhammad's eye and ended his fight with Leon Edwards.
Edwards wished Muhammad a speedy recovery; however, "Rocky" insisted he was winning the fight up to that point and saw no reason to rematch Muhammad. Well, Muhammad has a different take.
Never saw someone act so tough after poking someone in the eye the fight was just getting goin and if your satisfied to end it on that note your soft you ain’t getting a title fight off that I took the fight on 3 week notice and came to fight run it back @ufc— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) March 14, 2021
Leon Edwards was channelling Marvelous Marvin Hagler all week
Leon Edwards was feeling the spirit of Marvelous Marvin Hagler for about 10 days.
Edwards had been posting about Hagler and watching his fights since approximately last Tuesday. That made it all the eerier that news of Hagler's death made headlines on Saturday night.
“It’s mad, yeah, because all week, since I’ve been to Vegas, all I’ve been posting on my Instagram is Marvin Hagler, Marvin Hagler for some mad reason,” Edwards said at a post-fight news conference (h/t MMA Junkie). “I had, like, a mad feeling, because I’ve felt that spirit. I’ve been watching him every single day since last Tuesday. Watching him, watching him, watching him.”
In fact, Edwards' last Instagram Story post before his fight with Belal Muhammad was a photo of Hagler. It was published one hour before news of the boxing legend's death was made public.
This is pretty wild. Leon Edwards' final Instagram story before his fight was of Marvin Hagler – and it was posted one hour before news of Hagler's death surfaced. #UFCVegas21 pic.twitter.com/IqTjd5Scf1— Nolan King (@mma_kings) March 14, 2021
“I posted him today,” Edwards said. “Like two hours before he passed away, I posted it. My coach came in, like, ‘Why (are) you posting him? You know he passed away?’ I was like, ‘No, he didn’t. I just posted him.’ … It’s sad really. He’s a legend. I looked up to him. The way he was aggressive. … It’s sad really.”
Belal Muhammad shows off injured eye
Belal Muhammad was in no condition to continue after a finger caught him in the eye at UFC Vegas 21.
Muhammad showed off the result of Leon Edwards' accidental eye-poke. In a tweet published Saturday night, "Remember the Name" showed off his cut and swollen right eye.
My heart is shattered my first main event ended like that but Gods the best of planners im sorry to the fans and the @ufc you deserved a full fight.. Alhamdillah the vision is coming back and no permanent damage to the eye I’ll be back and want to run it back @Leon_edwardsmma pic.twitter.com/5xsvhmZ5Uh— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) March 14, 2021
Aljamain Sterling calls for new gloves after UFC Vegas 21 eye-poke
Aljamain Sterling can clearly see the need for new gloves after Belal Muhammad was rendered half-blind at UFC Vegas 21.
An accidental eye-poke left Muhammad's eye swollen and bleeding. Newly crowned UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling took to Twitter and called for new MMA gloves that will help reduce eye-pokes.
We need new gloves. Period!— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 14, 2021
They’re out there. I just don’t understand what we’re waiting for to make these changes. How many more eye injuries do we need to bring these new gloves in, that significantly reduce the spreading of the fingers.#UFCVegas21
Eryk Anders apologizes to Darren Stewart for "critical error" at UFC Vegas 21
Eryk Anders appeared moments away from stopping Darren Stewart at UFC Vegas 21, and then it happened.
It was a short, explosive contender for Fight of the Night that saw both men take immense damage early on. Unfortunately, Anders threw a knee to a grounded Stewart that immediately halted the action. Stewart was visibly hurt despite getting a hand up to block. The referee ruled that Stewart was unfit to continue and the fight was deemed a no-contest.
Anders took full responsibility for the blow and issued an apology to Stewart and after the fight.
1000 apologies to @Darren_mma. I know he wanted to keep going. I made a critical error in the heat of the moment and it cost us and the fans a barn burner.— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) March 14, 2021
UFC Vegas 21 makes history with two no-contests
UFC Vegas 21 made history for all the wrong reasons.
Saturday's card marks the first time in the promotion's history that two fights ended via no-contest. An eyepoke wrapped up Leon Edward vs. Belal Muhammad; meanwhile, an illegal knee to a grounded opponent interrupted a barnburner between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart.
Dan Ige calls out "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung
Dan Ige took Gavin Tucker's head off at UFC Vegas 21, and now he wants to decapitate the zombie.
Speaking with reporters at the UFC Vegas 21 post-fight press conference, Ige called out the "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.
“I mentioned the ‘Korean Zombie,’ but honestly, I’ll fight anyone,” Ige said (h/t MMA Junkie). “Dana said it, ‘This guy will fight anyone,’ and he wasn’t lying. I risked my ranking tonight against an up-and-coming killer. Yeah, I’m here to fight anyone.”
Ige also touched on his quick 22-second finish of Tucker.
“I definitely knew that I possess the power,” the ranked featherweight shared. “I posses the power to knock anyone out. It’s just timing, accuracy, and landing the shot."
“But definitely, and I said it in the press conference before, you know, ‘Fight of the Night’ for me that’s disrespectful. I want a ‘Performance of the Night.’ I don’t want to have a close fight with someone. I don’t want to take unnecessary punishment or damage. I want to go out there, finish fights and get clean kills, and that’s what I did tonight.”
Photo: Marcelo Rojo looks like he's been in a car crash
Marcelo Rojo and Charles Jourdain got the short-end of the stick for Fight of the Night, but they truly delivered a remarkable three-round war at UFC Vegas 21.
Rojo took the first-round against Jourdain; however, the Canadian roared back to life in the second and delivered a sustained beating in round three for a late TKO finish. Rojo posted a photo of his mangled face after the fight.
Les juro que lo deje todo. Solo me duele que mi familia pase por estos momentos. Gracias por la oportunidad @ufcespanol @UpgradeMG me conectaron en el segundo y no más veía rojo sangre -- tiré unos vergazos pin pum pam y el árbitro frenó el combate. -- pic.twitter.com/sZRLIZhFFw— PitbullRojo (@MarceRojoMMA) March 14, 2021
"I swear to you, I’ll drop everything," Rojo wrote (translation via BJPenn.com). "It only hurts me that my family goes through these moments. Thank you for the opportunity @ufcespanol @UpgradeMG They connected me in the second and I no longer saw blood red I threw a few strokes pin pum pam and the referee stopped the fight."
Ryan Spann says his family "went through a lot" ahead of UFC Vegas 21
Ryan Spann expressed cathartic emotion after finishing Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 21.
Spann told reporters at the UFC Vegas 21 post-fight presser that he had a lot weighing on his mind heading into the fight.
“We made it. It was one of them. I think I explained it before as that relief of getting your hand raised, that it’s finally over. We had to go through a lot to get to that, that I didn’t even speak on," Spann shared (h/t MMA Junkie). "Me and my family, we went through a lot to get to this, to that moment.”
“[I’ll] Keep doing what I’m doing – not what I was doing for the Johnny one, but what I was doing for this one. We’ll keep doing that!”
UFC Vegas 21 Promotional Guideline Compliance Pay
Fighters competing at UFC Vegas 21 took home a combined $166,000 from the UFC Promotional Guidelines Compliance.
MMA Junkie has released the totals, which you can review below. The program is "a comprehensive plan that includes outfitting requirements, media obligations and other items under the fighter code of conduct, replaces the previous payments made under the UFC Athlete Outfitting Policy."
Leon Edwards: $10,000
Belal Muhammad: $10,000
Misha Cirkunov: $5,000
Ryan Spann: $5,000
Dan Ige: $5,000
Gavin Tucker: $5,000
Jonathan Martinez: $5,000
Davey Grant: $5,000
Manel Kape: $3,500
Matheus Nicolau: $4,000
Eryk Anders: $10,000
Darren Stewart: $10,000
Angela Hill: $15,000
Ashley Yoder: $5,000
Charles Jourdain: $4,000
Marcelo Rojo: $3,500
Rani Yahya: $20,000
Ray Rodriguez: $3,500
Nasrat Haqparast: $5,000
Rafa Garcia: $3,500
Cortney Casey: $10,000
J.J. Aldrich: $5,000
Gloria de Paula: $3,500
Jinh Yu Frey: $3,500
Matthew Semelsberger: $3,500
Jason Witt: $3,500