Jai Herbert exclusive: Leon Edwards 'deserves a title shot'

  • Tom Ward
Jai Herbert

Facing the UFC‘s elite fighters does not faze British slugger Jai Herbert as ‘The Black Country Banger’ looks to rebuild his career.

It’s been a strange few months for the former Cage Warriors lightweight champion, after suffering his first UFC defeat only nine months on from signing a multi-fight deal with the promotion.

But the 33-year-old from Birmingham dusted himself down and immediately went back to work. 

“It’s hard because I’ve worked all my life to get to this point but I couldn’t just leave it at that,” Herbert reflects. “More than anything, I want to prove that I’m meant to be here.

“The main thing is that I know that I’m good enough to be here. I can beat these guys.

“I want to prove that to myself, not just to others but to myself, I want to prove that I’m meant to be here and I’m good enough to mix it with the best.” 

1 of 20
Jens Pulver

Can you get 20/20 on our random UFC fighters quiz? We doubt it...

On Saturday night, the former Cage Warriors champion will step into the Octagon against Renato Moicano on the main card of the UFC’s event in Las Vegas, and while he is determined to prove he belongs at the highest level, he is also confident he can exorcize his demons.

“I feel good man, I feel good. I’m feeling nice and relaxed which is always a good thing,” said Herbert. “I’m happy with the preparation, my team have done a great job.

“I think when you’ve prepared right and everything’s gone right, you can take that confidence with you into the fight. I’m feeling great and I’m ready to go.”

Jai Herbert and Leon Edwards inside the Octagon

Herbert (10-2) knows he will face a stiff test in the former interim Jungle Fight featherweight champion, however he feels training with brothers Leon and Fabian Edwards will serve him well. 

The 33-year-old added: “Like you said, he’s been in there with some of the best there’s ever been in the cage, but I’m very confident I’m going to go in there and get the win. 

“He’s got good jiu-jitsu, good Thai boxing and good conditioning, but I feel like he’s there for the taking. I’ve got a good team around me, camp has been great. 

“He comes forward with his hands raised [like this], he plods forward with very little head movement, so I feel like he’s there for the taking. I think my boxing is going to be the key thing in this fight.”

Jai Herbert stands next to Leon Edwards

UFC president Dana White has said that a rematch with Colby Covington is most likely next for Kamaru Usman, but Herbert believes it won’t be too long before Edwards sits above them both at the top of the rankings, adding: “He needs to get a title shot. He deserves a title shot. I mean, c’mon man, what else has he got to do? Ten fights unbeaten now, nine victories, you know what I mean? Unbelievable.

“Like I say, he needs to get a title shot. That’s what I want to see. I want to see him get a title shot. He deserves it. Who else deserves it as much as Leon? Nobody does. Nobody!

“But what a story it is as well, you know, his last defeat was to Usman, and he’s gone ten unbeaten since then, and then to get a rematch with Usman for the title, you know, it’s written in the stars, I think. 

“I can’t wait to see him become the new champion, it’s going to be crazy when that happens.”

Read more: Ian Garry exclusive: Conor McGregor is ‘the biggest star there’s ever been in the sport’

UFC Vegas 30 takes place Saturday night. The early prelims will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, while the preliminary card and main card will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

News Now - Sport News