The NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB all have one thing in common. Their rosters consist of world-class athletes who, at one point in their lifetimes, wanted to become part of their respective professional sports league. Some athletes are lucky enough to make the pros and spend their entire careers at that level. Other athletes aren’t so lucky. Some have a cold streak and are forced to go down to the minor leagues and hone their skills before being called back up to compete at the premier level again.
A lot of the same happens in the UFC, which is widely regarded as the major leagues of mixed martial arts. Some fighters spend their entire careers fighting in the organization, while others might fight a few here and there, having to earn some wins in an effort to get back to the bigs on an extended basis.
For UFC Fight for the Troops 2 competitor Yves Edwards, the return to the premier league is a great feeling, but it’s not all that he fights for. He trains to be a top competitor in the league, not just to compete in the top league.
“Everybody wants to be in the UFC and everybody wants to say, ‘oh, I fought in the UFC,'” Edwards told MMAWeekly Radio. “That’s not the ultimate goal. Some guys, once they get there, they really don’t even reassess. They don’t change things and say, ‘hey, I want to be a contender. I want to potentially go after that belt.'”
Being in the UFC is a great goal by any means, but getting there is just the beginning of the journey. Fighters conquer obstacles on their way to the bigs, but once they get there, they still have to fight their way up the ranks of the UFC division they fight in.
And once they begin their climb up those UFC rankings, the method of which they choose to compete is also key.
One of the issues MMA fans have voiced their opinions about lately is the lack of fighting in a fight. “Lay and pray,” as it is most commonly referred, is something that many viewers have a tough time wrapping their heads around. The lack of offense by one fighter after gaining an advantageous position seems to frustrate those paying to be entertained as spectators.
Some would call this method “smart.” Edwards believes this not to be true.
According to the 155-pound fighter, if you’re not going to fight, then you run the risk of sitting on the wrong side of a competition, soaking in the mud of defeat.
“Any time you fight not to lose, you run a big risk of not winning,” he said.
At this point in his professional career, Edwards is approaching 60 fights. Not many fighters can say they’ve fought as many times as Edwards and been successful. With a win at UFC Fight for the Troops 2, Edwards will reach the 40-win plateau. Keeping good company has helped him get to this level.
The toughness of his training partners and coaches have been all the reason he needs to train where he trains. Working with Antonio McKee in California has been a big help in Edwards’ preparation for his fight with TUF 12 alumnus Cody McKenzie.
“I always work with those guys because everyone in that gym is tough,” he said. “They keep a high pace and the conditioning there is really, really good. So that was a big part of it. They’ve got some really good guys there. Jesse Juarez helped me a lot with the jiu-jitsu game for this fight. When you fight a guy like Cody who has a specialty move, you have to adjust (for) that. You can’t totally ignore it.”