By Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Just days before his UFC 61 fight with Joe Stevenson, former Pride star and current UFC lightweight Yves Edwards spoke with MMAWeekly about his upcoming fight, the prospect of getting a title shot, and the 155-pound division that he helped to keep alive and will now hope to dominate.

MMAWeekly: Your match-up with Joe Stevenson is just a few days away, so how are you preparing for the fight, and are you training for anything specifically?

Yves Edwards: You know, the same kind of things… just training real hard, working on my takedown defense, getting off my back… Joe’s going to be real strong, and he’s a good wrestler, so both of those aspects are going to come into play. Also, I’ve been training my Jiu-Jitsu and [will] hopefully even pull a submission of my own off. I’m always consistently working on my boxing… just work on everything to be a complete mixed martial artist.

MMAWeekly: The last fight you had in the UFC was a tough loss to Mark Hominick, and then you got back to your winning ways in Pride. How important is it for you to win this fight against Joe Stevenson in the UFC and on your home turf in America?

Yves Edwards: It’s a big deal to me. The fight with Hominick wasn’t my best performance, and that kid came to fight. He brought his “A” game and I brought my “B” game, and mine wasn’t as good as his. I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do to make that fight happen again and bring my “A” game. This fight is real big. I mean, every fight is real big. The next fight you’re in is the biggest fight of your career up to that point. Right now, this is a big fight for me, not just because I’m fighting Joe Stevenson because he’s well known from the TV show, but also because he’s got good skills. I’ve got to get back on track,. I was considered by a lot of people as the top lightweight in America before that fight with Hominick and I kind of lost that, and that’s my own fault… I want to get back to where people believe the top is where I should be.

MMAWeekly: Now that you’ve fought on the main stage for Pride in Japan and obviously the UFC in America, do you find that you put more pressure on yourself when you’re fighting at home in America, or do you pay attention to that at all?

Yves Edwards: No, I don’t put any pressure on myself. The first time I ever really did that was in my last fight in the UFC, and I did that to myself, and I wasn’t able to live up to what I put on that fight. I had plenty of time to prepare for that fight, but I just didn’t perform. For this fight, I knew what was going to happen. I just wanted time to get my mind right. The only thing that can set your mind straight is to train. Then you feel prepared… you feel ready to do what you need to do. I’m as prepared as I’ve ever been. There’s no real pressure, but I just need to perform, and I’m ready to perform.

MMAWeekly: When you left the UFC for Pride, it was mainly because the UFC was basically abandoning the lightweight division. How excited were you to get the call that they were bringing back the 155-pound weight class and possibly soon bringing back the title?

Yves Edwards: That was a big deal to me, and I was very excited. I feel like that is “my” division, and it’s the deepest division in this sport. One-hundred eighty-five pounds is pretty deep, but it’s not as deep as 155. I’m just excited that the fans and the new people getting interested in this sport are seeing the best things about it. They’re seeing the fastest, most explosive division in this sport. They’ll see lots of technique, lots of speed and power, and you’ll see everything. It’s exciting to me because everyone will get a piece of the pie, ‘cuz the little guys gotta eat, too.

MMAWeekly: How important is it to you to finish this fight with Joe Stevenson or really impress with your performance?

Yves Edwards: That’s something that adds pressure. I’m going out there to win, and I’m going out there to stop the guy. I’m going out to finish the fight, but I’m also going out there prepared for the long haul. I’m not going to get frustrated or change my game plan. I’m going to stay focused, cool, calm, and in the game, and even if it goes 15 minutes, it’s still going to be my fight. Priority number one is to win this fight, and I’m going to win.

MMAWeekly: Has the fact that Joe Stevenson is dropping weight from 170 to 155 affected your preparation at all, since he might be weaker or have less stamina with all of that weight cutting?

Yves Edwards: I don’t really think about that too much. If he gets tired, he gets tired. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. To me, it doesn’t matter. Either way, he’s going to get punched in the face.

MMAWeekly: So, what can we expect out of this fight?

Yves Edwards: Joe Stevenson is a gamer, and he’s going to come to fight and look to win, but I’m going to be right in his face. I won’t make a prediction besides the fact that I’m going to win the fight.