MMAWeekly Radio and Jeff Cain
Yves Edwards has been labeled the “Unofficial UFC Lightweight Champion.” Well unofficial champions don’t receive belts, or get recognition for being a champ. Yves has his opportunity to officially become a lightweight champion, all he has to do is win the Pride Bushido LW tournament that begins September 25th. MMAWeekly recently spoke with Edwards about the tournament, and Yves broke down the LW portion of the upcoming Bushido card.

Yves was questioned who’s the one guy in the tournament to beat. He answered, “Everybody. Hansen, or Gomi, or Kawajiri, or Jens. I mean everybody. My thing is this, everybody in this tournament has the possibility of winning it even the guys in the reserve match up. I think the bottom of the list right now is Kotani and Krazy Horse. Everybody else has a real legitimate chance of winning this tournament. I mean those two have a chance also at the same time because it’s a tournament. You never know what could happen, but to say you’ve just got to look out for one guy the whole way through, you can’t do that. First of all none of us have ever done a tournament like this, but at the same time every guy in there is really good, so you can’t just say that one guy is the guy to beat.”

Yves first obstacle in the way of him becoming a world champion is Norway’s Joachim Hansen. About facing Hansen in the first round, Yves said, “I think it’s good. We’ll both be fresh…I’m just hoping the winner of the tournament comes out of that fight.” Yves added, “it’s tough on both sides. Right now my main concern is Hansen. I’ve got to focus on that, and deal with Jens or Sakurai after the fact.”

Asked what Hansen brings to the table that he needs to be concerned about, Edwards replied, “His ground and pound is pretty good. You know? He hits really hard from the ground. I’m not used to getting hit a lot. My style kind of negates a lot of punches on the ground. I don’t know. He needs to land some punches to win, and of course I need him not to. I want to see if he brings anything different than everybody else does. If I can create the space and get back to my feet if it gets that far. His stand up has gotten better, but I don’t think his stand up is where mine is right now. You’ve got to always be cautious because all it takes is one punch, but at the same time I think my stand up is a little bit ahead of his. My main concern is his ground and pound. His Jiu-Jitsu is really good, but it can’t be better than black belts right? You’ve just got to be cautious that’s all.”

Yves broke down the other match ups of the lightweights starting with Takanori Gomi and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Yves said, “I don’t know. Kawajiri is really, really strong. I know that from experience, but Gomi’s has that chin. That fight’s going to go the distance if Kawajiri wins that fight. I don’t know what Kawajiri’s chin is like. I didn’t get to test it. Gomi might get that chance. That fight I’m not sure. If it goes the distance I think it’s Kawajiri. If it ends I think it’s Gomi, but then Gomi has been rocked before. He could be rocked and get knocked out…I can’t pick…I’ve got to go with the guy that beat me (Kawajiri).”

Moving on to Naoyuki Kotani vs. Luis Azeredo, Yves commented, “From what I see I’ve got to go with Azeredo. Azeredo’s bigger, and he’s complete. The guy can fight on the ground. He can fight standing. At this point I’ve got to go with Azeredo.”

The fight that Yves will have to face the winner of if he gets past Hansen is Jens Pulver vs. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. “I can’t figure that one out because I’ve heard stories about Jens being hard for Matt Hughes to take down even. I’ve seen Jens’ take down defense. I just don’t think he can handle it. As far as that goes, Sakurai has been doing this as long as anybody else. He’s a great fighter. I think Jens’ hands are a little better. Sakurai I think is a little more rounded in the stand up as far as like he can throw the knees from the clinch, and his hands probably aren’t as good as Jens’, but that’s not the only thing in this game. If I have to pick, I’ve got to go with Jens. His take down defense is the best. Sakurai’s going to have to deal with him standing. I think Jens’ hands are going to be the deciding factor.”

That lines up Kawajiri and Azeredo in the semi finals. Yves stated, “I’ve got to take Kawajiri in the final…His ground and pound is pretty sick, so I think he can take Azeredo down and control him, and pound him for fifteen minutes if it happens to go that long. If he starts getting his thumps in, I don’t think it will go that long.”

Yves of course is heading into this tournament thinking he’ll be in the finals with Kawajiri, and that he’ll be the first Pride LW champion. On September 25th it will unfold and we’ll know who’ll be fighting for the belt in the finals. We’ll see if the finals will have Thug-Jitsu on the menu.