Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad were looking to make statements in their UFC Fight Night main event clash on Saturday. Edwards was looking to impress after a 20-month layoff, while Muhammad wanted to prove that he belongs in the welterweight division's upper echelon.
Neither man got what they desired as the bout went to a no-contest after Edwards poked Muhammad in the right eye for the second time in the fight as in many rounds.
"I apologize to Belal, I didn't mean to do it," Edwards said in his post-fight interview. "I went for the crosshead kick, he stepped into it, and I really apologize. I would rather have lost than that. I'm just heartbroken. I don't know what to say."
You couldn't tell that Edwards (18-3-1) had been out of action for nearly two years. He looked sharp from the opening bell. His punches were fluid, he had good movement, and wobbled Muhammad with a head kick in the first round. In what ended up being a sign of things to come, Edwards accidentally poked Muhammad in the eye in the final minute of the opening stanza.
Moments into the second, Edwards went to throw a body kick, and he had his left arm in the air with his fingers open and once again poked Muhammed in the eye. Immediately, Muhammad screamed in agony and fell to the mat. The ringside doctor came into the Octagon, and Muhammad told him and referee Herb Dean that he couldn't see out of his right eye, which was slowly dripping blood.
It was unknown what the final result would be, considering it was the second time Edwards committed the foul until the result was read.
"I felt great. I don't believe in ring rust," Edwards said. "I won the first round clearly, I just wanted to show more ... to have that opportunity taken away from me, obviously accidental. I'm just heartbroken."
Here is what happened at UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs. Muhammad.