19-3, 9-0-1 streak, #2 ranked, 11-2-1 UFC record and how could we forget title shots. As far as fighters go, Leon is rapidly approaching Jon Fitch’s levels of disrespect and being overlooked, the only difference is that Jon received a shot at GSP after 8 straight wins.
Now we have constantly heard and seen business get in the way of fights that should be made in favour of the fights that will make the most money. For example, Conor got a title shot against Khabib after a 2-year layoff from MMA while he pursued boxing Mayweather and other business ventures, or remember when Brock Lesnar faced Randy Coture after being 2-1.
We also, unfortunately, live in an era where trash-talking and followers mean more than wins and consistency, but while Leon has been nothing but the latter, he is always being labelled as too soft-spoken, not marketable enough or as Dana refers to them “non-needle movers”.
Stylistically, Leon is one of the best strikers in his division and is the perfect contrast to Usman. He has raised his wrestling defence and has been able to use his size to engage the clinch rather than leave himself open for a takedown.
But at what point does a fighter on such a streak receive his shot at the title. With the names that he’s faced and beat like Diaz, Belal, RDA, Gunnar, Cowboy, and Luque one would’ve thought he would at least have received a proper and official title eliminator or perhaps a shot at an interim belt. As it stands Leon is currently sitting in purgatory as current champ Kamaru Usman is both recovering from a hand injury that is seemingly going to take some time to recover while also contemplating a ridiculous move to boxing to face Canelo. For those that may not know Kamaru beat Leon by UD in 2015. But if Masvidal can get back to back shots, while Colby lost to Usman, beat Tyron Woodley and lost to Usman again then there is no reason why Leon shouldn’t be next.
Of the top 10, there is no one else that should be getting the call over Leon, there are several others that also deserve the attention Leon has been lacking, such as #3 Khamzat Chimaev who has taken the world by storm and just had a FOTY candidate when he beat Gilbert Burns, but he is only 5-0 in the UFC and has just faced his first real challenge and top 5 opponents.
The next would be #5 Belal Muhamad who is 21-3 and is on a 7-0-1 streak with the lone contest stemming from an eye poke injury ironically vs Leon. In the top 10, several fighters have recently lost or had back to back L’s (#4 Burns, #6 Luque, #7 Wonderboy) and have lost to the champ twice (#1 Colby, #8 Masvidal), which leaves #10 Neil Magny and #9 Sean Brady who are on win streaks but have to either put more of a streak together or face more ranked opposition.