Rafael dos Anjos versus Leon Edwards is set as the headliner for UFC on ESPN 4 on July 20 in San Antonio, Texas.
After a lot of searching, false starts, and misfires, UFC officials finally nailed down a headliner for its July event on ESPN’s flagship network.
A bout between current UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche had been considered for the UFC San Antonio main event, as well as the idea of moving the UFC 239 light heavyweight bout between Luke Rockhold and Jan Blachowicz, but neither materialized.
The Shevchenko vs. Carmouche bout never came together and Rockhold was already booked to shoot a Polo Ralph Lauren commercial on July 20, so officials shifted gears to dos Anjos vs. Edwards. UFC president Dana White revealed to Yahoo! Sports on Thursday that the dos Anjos vs. Edwards bout was set to headline the San Antonio fight card.
Having defeated Kevin Lee in his most recent bout, former lightweight champion dos Anjos (29-11) is looking to build some momentum and get back in the hunt for the UFC welterweight championship.
Following wins over former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny, and former UFC champion Robbie Lawler, dos Anjos had been rocketing toward the title, but misfired in his shot at the interim UFC welterweight championship. After losing a five-round unanimous decision to Colby Covington for the interim belt, he then lost a decision to now-champion Kamaru Usman.
The victory over Lee was a huge step toward redemption for dos Anjos, but he’ll need to fend off the red-hot Edwards in order to keep his hopes of getting a crack at Usman alive.
Edwards’ (17-3) most recent loss was also to Usman, although that took place nearly four years ago. He has since been rocketing toward the belt on the heels of a seven-fight winning streak.
Edwards’ last two fight in particular have put him in prime position to earn a shot at the belt. His last two victories came at the expense of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who has returned to the lightweight division, and Gunnar Nelson, considered one of the toughest technical fighters in the division. Defeating a former champion in dos Anjos would certainly make for a strong case to earn a title shot.
UFC on ESPN 4, aside from the dos Anjos vs. Edwards headliner, is also expected to feature several pivotal heavyweight bouts, including Aleksei Oleinik vs. Walt Harris, Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell, and Greg Hardy vs. Juan Adams.