Leon Edwards praises Conor McGregor for bringing MMA ‘forward for the casual fans’

Leon Edwards recognizes that the rise of Conor McGregor was best for business.

McGregor has been out of the UFC picture for the past couple of years as he recovers from a broken leg, but he remains one of the most talked-about fighters in the sport due to his tentative return (the former two-division champion has targeted both UFC 300 on April 13 and a July 29 UFC card as potential comeback dates) and his mainstream media presence. A remake of the film Road House featuring McGregor premieres on March 8.

During an appearance on Up Front With Simon Jordan, Edwards—the UFC’s current welterweight champion who also awaits an official booking—was asked about McGregor’s impact on MMA’s booming popularity and he took the opportunity to praise “The Notorious.”

“For me, I think he’s great for the sport,” Edwards said. “I think he’s definitely brought the sport forward for the casual fans. He’s one of these guys that you either like him or don’t like him, he is who he is, but as far as—what he’s achieved in sport, you can’t take away from him. He did become the first-ever [simultaneous] two-division world champion, but he can talk all the s***, he is actually a good fighter as well behind it.

“For the sport, he definitely helped the sport. He didn’t take nothing away from it, he definitely gave more as far as pushing it for the mainstream.”

Unfortunately for fans of McGregor, the UFC star has given them just as many reasons to jeer as to cheer in recent years. McGregor has regularly made headlines for the wrong reasons, including multiple accusations of sexual assault (most recently, McGregor was cleared of criminal charges over an alleged incident that occurred in Miami), other legal infractions ranging from assault to destroying someone’s cellphone, and the infamous UFC 223 incident of April 2018 that saw him throw a dolly threw a bus window in an attempt to attack rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Edwards flatly stated that he could do without all of those antics, but it doesn’t take away from McGregor’s contributions to the business of MMA.

“I’m not an admirer of his,” Edwards said. “I’m judging from the competitive part of it, the self-promoting part of it. His personal life is—I’m sure there’s other people in boxing or in football doing weird s***, but for me, I couldn’t give two s**** about his personal life. It’s more just about what he’s achieved in the game. The self-promotion part of it, to each their own, that’s what he’s going to do. He’s not my mate, so it is what it is.”

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